Best Practices in Mainstreaming Environmental & Social Safeguards into Gas Pipeline Projects: Learning from the Bolivia-Brazil Gas Pipeline Project (GASBOL)
The Project faced significant environmental, social and institutional complexities stemming in part from its bi-national scope, it size and
scale, and the fact that it had to deal with two legislative frameworks, inequalities in infrastructure, complex institutional agreements, Indigenous communities and sensitive ecological areas. Despite these considerable challenges, the design, construction, implementation, and operational phases of the project were well managed and as a result GASBOL has established itself as a benchmark for the management of large infrastructure projects.
Environmental management of the project was a responsibility shared by the Project Sponsors-- including Petrobrás, YPFB, Enron, Shell, El Paso Energy, British Gas (BG), BHP- - and an Environmental Committee (EC) consisting of Petrobrás, YPFB, Enron,
representing Shell, and El Paso, representing BG and BHP (BTB). The EC selected a consortium consisting of Dames & Moore, Prime Engenharia and Biodinâmica to carry out the Environmental Supervision.)
Feedback from representatives of civil society was actively solicited. An Ombudswoman facilitated the Social and Environmental Committee (SEC) interaction with the project sponsors and other stakeholders and acted as a liaison between the Project, local communities and NGOs.
It is auspicious that three years into its operation, GASBOL has met world-class environmental standards, such as the World Bank’s environmental and social safeguards by using both conventional and innovative practices. While by no means without its
challenges, the Project’s current status has been achieved through flexible and adaptive methods, the results of which have been recognized by its having received the World Bank’s Green Award, the International Association of Impact Assessment’s Environmental Award (IAIA) in 2001, and the ISO 14002 and 9001.
It is hoped that the lessons learned from this exercise will serve to improve the planning and implementation of similar projects within the tropical, subtropical and temperate zones.