Onshore oil and gas sector guidance

3. A1 installation permits

Onshore oil and gas and installations permits for storing and handling crude oil, treating effluents and operating flares.

3.1 When you need an installation permit

You must apply for an installation permit for your oil and gas site if you:

  • store and handle crude oil
  • treat effluents (including extractive waste)
  • operate a flare rated above 10 tonnes per day

For more information about the permitting requirements for operating flares see section 8 Flares at onshore oil and gas sites.

3.2 Storing and handling crude oil

You must apply for an installation permit for your oil and gas site if you store and handle crude oil. Storing and handling crude oil also includes storing and handling gas condensate. See section 9 for best available techniques for storing and handling crude oil.

If you will be storing a dangerous substance you may also need to comply with the Control of Major Accident Hazards (COMAH) regulations. Crude oil is typically classified as hazardous, which makes it a dangerous substance under the COMAH regulations.

Schedule 1 of the COMAH regulations provides information about the thresholds and different hazardous substances the regulations apply to.

You can find more information in:

In England, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the Environment Agency enforce the COMAH regulations as a joint competent authority. If the COMAH regulations apply to your activities, you must notify both these organisations.

3.3 Treating effluents including extractive wastes

You must apply for an installations permit if you treat:

  • waste including effluents
  • extractive waste, including liquid extractive waste

You will need an installations permit if your treatment plant has the capacity to treat more than:

  • 50 tonnes per day of non-hazardous waste for disposal - using chemical, biological or physical treatment
  • 75 tonnes per day of non-hazardous waste for recovery – using biological treatment
  • 10 tonnes per day of hazardous waste

This includes:

  • extractive waste such as produced water and flow back fluid
  • any other effluents produced and treated on site for disposal or destruction

Chemical treatment involves the addition of a chemical reagent to react with pollutants. This changes their form so they can be removed or made less harmful to the environment. Examples of chemical treatment include:

  • neutralisation by adding acids or alkalis
  • chemical absorption or precipitation
  • flocculation by adding flocculating additives

Biological treatment involves using aerobic or anaerobic bacteria which digest organic pollutants in the effluent.

Physical treatment involves some form of mechanical or thermal separation. For example:

  • filtration – including molecular sieves
  • adsorption
  • settlement
  • evaporation

See section 10: Treating effluents best available techniques (BAT).