Our History

ICOE was founded by Sir Alastair Dunnett and William J Cairns in 1978 as the International Council on Oil and the Environment with charitable status and existed in this form for twenty four years. ICOE then took on the joint industry, government, consultancy and academic task to produce the initial twenty-year environmental performance record of North Sea oil and gas developments published by Elsevier in 1992, ‘North Sea Oil and the Environment, Developing Oil and Gas Resources, Environmental Impacts and Responses.’


ICOE formed a centre for environmental research to undertake specific assignments on a project-by-project basis including studies on Carbon Capture and Storage for Scottish Enterprise Energy, and a feasibility and scoping study on Global Petroleum, ‘Meeting the Sustainability Challenge’ sponsored by BP.


In association with Norwegian Petroleum Forum (NPF) and Environment Canada, ICOE organised four international petroleum and environment conferences: the first was held in Edinburgh (1980), the second in Halifax, Canada (1982), the third in Bergen, Norway (1984) and the fourth in Boston, USA (1986). These ICOE conferences focussed on the marine offshore and onshore impacts of oil exploration, field development and the infrastructure required to support these activities.


ICOE pioneered concepts of “using environmental criteria to achieve greater cost-effectiveness in development and operational practice”, and “Good Engineering is Good Environment”.


ICOE subsequently broadened its scope to incorporate the fullest significance of health and safety criteria and application as central to its fundamental purpose.


ICOE has evolved into its present form as a project-oriented, innovative research centre managed by ICOE Research Limited. The centre’s purpose is to promote technology and EHS management best practice for the global petroleum industry.