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The introductory section of the paper covers the background studies into core aspects of greenhouse emissions, current state of environmental conservatism, and roadmap towards sustainability. It further discusses the problem this paper intends to solve. Subsequently, it outlines the research aim, objectives, and questions that collectively drive this investigative research.
The heightening awareness of the environmental conversation and protection has steered the questions of sustainability approaches taken by not just governments but also business entities and other organisations. The climate change evident with shifting in temperatures range, weather patterns, prolonged droughts, and melting of glaciers has instituted leading institutions in both governments and private sectors to think and formulate a planned strategy of combating this change. Among the widely accepted framework is cutting down on the Carbon Dioxide (CO2) emission.
Since discovery of fossil fuels that include oil, natural gases, and coal, it uses in propelling industry revolution and transportation has been immense. The transportation sector (automobile, railway, airplanes, and ships), industrial sector, commercial businesses, and electrification have grown to heavily depend on the fuel in propelling its daily and long-term activities. However, the by-product of burning of these fuels is CO2 which has been found to be a leading cause of global warming, a key ingredient of the climate change. As pointed by EPA (2020), emission of CO2, a greenhouse gas into the air traps heat in the atmosphere causing a warming in global scale over time. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) pointed out that net damage costs of climate change resulting in extreme weather conditions (droughts, rainfalls, storms), rising sea levels, and glacial retreat would be devastating.
In attempt to reverse the effects of this change in climate and curb the disasters accompanying it, leading institutions agree that urgent actions are necessary. Among the advocated sustainability approaches include addressing the leading cause, modelling development around climate-resilient approaches, and sustaining methods that have minimal impact on the climate. The recent landmark accords such as 2015 Paris Agreement and Kyoto Protocol demonstrate determinations held by international communities in addressing the problem (Nugent., 2019) In business perspective, as highlighted by Magill (2021), consumers are increasingly becoming conscious of the climate changes and need for environmental sustainability. Key to this has seen a significant shift in purchasing and consumption behaviour. Recent popularity of electric automobile and rise of renewable energy sources exemplify the perspective change in not only how the effects of climate change has impacted their lives but also the buying pattern. According to Nast (2020), in addition to pressure by governmental institutions and international accords, business entities are facing heightening pressure to formalise fight against this change in climate. At the centre of this are the companies in oil and gases industry.
Being in the forefront of the production of fossil fuels, the oil and natural gases industry has faced several onslaughts on their roles and responsibility towards the protection and sustainability of the environment. According to Beck et al. (2020), in addition to producing fuels that accounts for 33% of the global CO2 emissions, the industry contributes 9% of all human-made greenhouse emissions. In 2014, Libya was ranked 120th out of 178 countries in environmental performance index (Athanasoglou et al., 2016). Fundamentally, in addition to the in direct environmental degradation through the fossil fuel burning, the spillage of both oil and gases to the environment in the industry are leading factor of degradation and unsustainability. This has caused some entities to question the overall benefit of the industry in relation to the cost incurred as a result of combatting the effect of the climate change. The push for sustainable framework in the businesses and institutions highlight the changing perception towards balancing development and product consumption with sustainability. As part of its role in mitigating climate change, the industry need to reduce its emissions by 3.4 GtCO2e. Currently most companies in the industry have set carbon-reduction targets with some such as BP vowing to attain net-zero emissions by 2050.
Branson highlighted that growing momentum for a transition to low carbon products and activities has brought into light the pressure companies are facing in developing sustainability strategies. In Libya, where oil and gas industry makes up a backbone of its economic in terms of the government revenue and employment its citizens, the transition is more profound. Evolving both local and international stakeholders that include the public and activists in formulation of the policies as well as adoption of improved technologies and economics. The increasingly competitive nature of the low carbon energies that include renewables that is complemented by low impact on the environment is threatening performance and survival of whole oil and gas industry not only in Libya but globally. Libya being the largest holder of oil reserves in Africa and among ten in the world with capacity of producing approximately 1.65 million barrels a day as of 2010, is posed to be impacted huge by the push for low carbon transition. Therefore, for its survival and curb the emerging threats, the industry need to rethink its strategies for environmental sustainability. As such, this research intends to investigate the strategies the industry has formulated in preparation for the reducing CO2 emission.
This research aims to explore the sustainable approach formulated by Oil and Gas industry in Libya as a framework of reducing CO2 emission and in preparation of the future transition to low carbon energies
The aim above will be supported by the following objectives:
The following research questions will be the basis in which the research aim and objectives are attained:
In a study on balancing sustainable operations by offshore oil and gas industry, Silvestre and Gimenes (2017) highlighted the complexity in which business entities in the industry are facing that include progressively hostile environment on requirement to adhere to non-harmful operations and curbing greenhouse emissions. Increasingly, regulatory framework supported by international and national accords are being formulated aimed at eliminating disasters, protecting people, and conserving the environment.
Although number of frameworks have been formulated and implemented, their effectiveness has raised some questions. According to Gardas et al. (2019), common practices in the industry that include process safety management systems (PSMS) is limited by lacks uniformity and inefficient in enforcement. Ahmad et al. (2017) argued that sustainable supply chain management (SSCM) practices indulges the need of incorporating the economic, social, and environmental dimensions in formulation and management of core business operations that include sustainability. The concerns of climate change forcing the companies in the industry to reconsider their operations, however, both the micro- and macro- economic dimensions need to be addressed in order to attain real progress towards environment sustainability (Carter, and Rogers, 2008).
Another study by Orazalin and Mahmood (2018) on sustainability reporting by Russian companies in O&G industry focusing on the three pillars: economic, social, and environmental found that companies with foreign ownership showed a much higher degree of transparency in disseminating sustainability information. In hindsight, although in some countries sustainability framework are in place, its implementation and report is a bigger challenge.
At business level, sustainable models curbing the emission of CO2 need to consider the economics, social, and cultural dynamics in relations to the involved stakeholders. A framework towards the emission abatement tends to go beyond the reduction process incorporate the financial input required, the cost cutting methods, and change of company’s operations. Collectively, as illustrated by Vora et al. (2021), development of sustainability frameworks might require overhauling the entire operations. Some studies have suggested emphasising on having a detailed environmental risk assessment prior to development as well as conducting continuously once operations begins. Although, this would lead to addition operational cost, the failure to comply with regulations would have greater consequences from both regulators and increasingly environmental-conscious consumers. Frank et al. (2016) proposed consolidated environmental sustainability indicators framework that would allow companies to in addition to implementation of approaches that emit low carbon, it would outline a constant monitoring process ensuring adherence to the requirements.
Although integration of sustainability framework in the oil and gas industry are perceived as core to addressing the environmental and operation performance, the major challenges that include reducing costs, optimising the performance, and improving carbon footprint are seen as limiting factors. Findings by Irhoma (2017) indicate that the approaches adopted by Libyan companies in the industry do not match to those integrated in other developed nations and also not fitting with managerial and governance processes. Omar et al. (2021) argued that core to success formulation and implementation of the sustainability framework in Libya is ensuring active participation of stakeholders. According to Alawi and Masaud (2021), integrating the management through awareness and education process on the importance of environment sustainability offers a huge step towards curbing CO2 emission.
This chapters outlines the ideological concept behind the approach taken in answering the research questions, as well as achieving the outlined objectives. It presents the paradigms followed in developing knowledge within the constraints of the research questions and problem. It then follows with approaches and strategies in which the answers to the research questions are obtained in a systematic and logical manner. Lastly, the data collection and analysis process are discussed.
O’Gorman et al. (2014) defined research philosophy as assumptions made by a researcher in knowledge development. It holds beliefs held by a researcher about the phenomena under the study that in turn acts as basis in which the source, nature, and development of knowledge is founded. Research philosophical framework is subdivided into main areas: epistemology and ontology. Al-Saadi (2014) described epistemology as concepts about what is known whereas as ontology captures the nature of reality in essence of how individuals go about studying and trying to know. Studies have categorised ways in which people as social actors perceive and draw meaning from their surroundings. These includes constructivism and objectivism. As described by Bell et al. (2018), constructivism also referred to as interpretivism as concept where individuals construct meaning to their surrounding rather than just being passive elements. As explained by Adom et al. (2016), in a social setting where an individual encounter myriads of information either actively or passively, one tends to infer meaning.
However, due to varying individual experience, the inference drawn by different people vary. As such, it argues that people as social actors have their own interpretation of the shared phenomena because of intrigue and complex of each individual. On the other hand, objectivism rejects developing meaning through systematic mean from social phenomena. It argues that knowledge is not a social product rather than something to be discovered. It bases on realism whether components are treated independent from human mind. Positivism paradigm follows that factual knowledge is only gained through scientifically measurable and observable. Hence, advocating on only relying on trustworthy information in knowledge development.
In this case, the issue of CO2 emission is a scientific fact determined through measurement and quantifiable approach. However, sustainable framework embodies social actors in which different people have varying perspective and concept of success. Because of interest disparity, stakeholders in the O&G industry that include consumers, regulators, management, investors, and community have different perspectives on need, degree, and success factors of sustainability frameworks. Arguably, reducing CO2 emission by the O&G industry in Libya is subject to several factors that include industry operations, socio-economic elements of the community and Libyan citizens, performance of the industry, and the government policies. With this in mind, the social constructivism paradigm best fit the knowledge development.
Bell et al. (2018) referred research approach as systematic procedure followed by a researcher towards answering research questions and achieving outlined objectives. Scholars have outlined three main research approach, namely: qualitative, quantitative, and mixed method. Rutberg and Bouikidis (2018) described quantitative as an approach where the data and information is capture in numerical and measurable manner. In this approach, the correlation between different variables under the study is expressed numerically. Whereas, qualitative approach involves delving deeper to have better understanding by capturing perspective, opinions, and insight of the involved data source. As pointed out by Mohajan (2018), qualitative method relies largely on collecting data by researcher through observations, interviews, focus groups, and questionnaires. It is funded on aiming to go beyond the surface mathematical attributes but offer an insight on how things appear the way they are or understand how people perceive phenomena under the study. Therefore, in order to have a better understanding on concept of sustainability and reducing CO2 emission by O&G industry, one need to delve deeper than surface description. This is achievable by involving participants to gain individual perspective and viewpoint on the subject matter. Hence, this will use qualitative approach.
As commonly referred to as research reasoning, it embodies the sequential action giving the thought process followed by a research in search for answers and attain the objectives. Scholars have outlined two main reasoning approaches, namely: inductive and deductive. Pellegrino and Glaser (2021) illustrate that inductive reasoning involves drawing general conclusion from a structured investigation and observations. This is considered conducting a research that enables solving a problem then coming up with a theorised conclusion. Whereas, the deductive involves proving or disproving an already established concept through series of structured research process. It follows moving from a generalised concept to a specific observation (Woiceshyn, and Daellenbach, 2018). In this case, CO2 emission is not a new concept in business and institutions operations. However, for a success sustainable framework, it requires structuring an organisation-oriented approach tailored specifically for the operations, culture, beliefs, and internal and external forces affecting the O&G industry in Libya. Therefore, a reasoned strategy of moving from specific investigating core variables towards sustainability then drawing conclusion is applicable.
According to Paradis et al. (2016), research data can be sourced from either primary or secondary sources. Primary sources involve collecting data directly from the research participants using such techniques as observations, experiments, interview, or questionnaire. On the other hand, secondary data comprise of data that has already been collected and made readily available to the researcher. The sources include previously done researcher, company’s reporting, institution data reports, and publications. Unlike primary sources that addresses the question directly with involvement of the researcher, the secondary sources are time convenient but deprived the researcher control of nature of data and information (Aborisade,2013). In order to have a better perspective of sustainable approaches taken by companies in O&G industry in Libya, this research need to collect data directly from the participants. Hence, use of primary data collection techniques.
Although interview allows a researcher to question the participant to explain more on the response given as well as catching body language to questions, the need for meet face-to-face meet tend to be time consuming. Also, due to the novel COVID-19 pandemic and its containment protocol, such physical meet-up would not be possible. Online interview offers an alternative, however this research need to cover a wider O&G industry across the country thus involving various stakeholder. With such scope, interview will be cumbersome and unrealistic. Hence, applicability of online questionnaire.
The survey sample population will be 200 participants purposively sampled. The invitation will be done via emails (personal and organisational only after permission of relevant organisations) such as employee email list, and social media platforms that include Instagram Stories, Facebook, Twitter, and WhatsApp. All the potential participants would require to consent by reading and signing informed consent letter before proceeding to online survey.
The collected data was evaluated before interpretation using thematic analytic tool. The tools enable mapping patterns from the participants’ responses into themes that would provide an insight into changes in housebuilding in the UK (Terry et al., 2017). The extensive knowledge and experience in the field, the themed responses provide what the participants think the changes are, factors forcing change, challenges and barriers, as well as future prospect in the industry particularly regarding sustainable approach on reducing CO2 emission.
In addition to maintaining academic rigour and credibility through referencing and citing accordingly all the data and information used by this research, it will ensure the privacy and confidentiality of all participant is maintained. All the participant will be required to fill an online informed consent letter before answering questionnaire questions. They will not be required to provide any personal and information that would otherwise identify them in any way. The data and information gathered will be used purposively and exclusively as a partially requirement to attainment of an academic degree.
Environmental consciousness amplified by the push to have a sustainable developments and consumption has forced business communities and governmental bodies to rethink about CO2 emission. For many, adoption of sustainable frameworks built on having short and long-term strategies of managing emissions. However, O&G industry faces a bigger challenge because its centres its business model around the fossil fuels which is the main CO2 emission. Eliminating the of fossil fuels is equivalent to committing a business suicide. Pressure on the companies in the sector to consider sustainable business model fostering reducing CO2 emission has them restructuring and rethinking their business models as well as instituting efficient fossil fuel use. In Libya, the challenges faced the industry is arguably exacerbated by the fact it is the major revenue generating industry for the government, employer, and plays a vital in socio-economic aspects in the immediate communities. Combined with accelerated advancement of other sustainable technologies in energy sector that include solar PVs, wind energy, nuclear, and electric cars, the entire industry does not only contemplate conforming with sustainability pressure but also restructure to ensure efficiency in order to compete in the market.
Based on this, this research focused on explore ways in which O&G industry in Libya need to develop a framework of reducing CO2 emission. In order to satisfactorily answer and attain the research objectives, the social constructivism paradigm will be employed that perceive social subjects hold varying perspective to phenomena based despite being exposed to same experiences. A qualitative research will be used to delve deeper and have an insight into sustainable framework the would lead to reduction in CO2 emission in O&G industry in Libya. Primary data sources will offer a mechanism of gaining a better understanding on entire industry include challenges and frameworks in place. Because of the wide and expansive O&G industry having several stakeholders, an online questionnaire will provide an efficient and convenient way of reaching and collecting data from the participant. The population sample will be experts in the Libyan O&G industry sourced from business communities, regulators, management, communities, and employees. The collected data will be analysed using thematic analytic tool. Prior to involvement in data collection, all he potential participant will be informed of their privacy and confidentiality right. An informed consent letter will also capture the scope, purpose, duration, and handling of the findings.
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