A new-venture project team must ensure that the identified risks and constraints are understood, documented and addressed for the project to obtain approval. 

Before starting a venture in a new country, we take several steps to assess the potential sustainability and business risks. Once an opportunity is identified and a request for approval is drafted, a new country entry risk report is prepared. A preliminary due-diligence assessment is conducted to identify significant risks, including social and environmental concerns, and define how they will be managed. 

The new country entry request is then reviewed by the business and function leadership and the CEO. In some cases, such as areas at high risk of political instability, consultation with the board of directors would take place. If we are entering into a joint venture, we use these assessments during negotiations with potential co-venturers to outline the risks identified, clearly state our expectations on environmental and social-issue performance, and discuss how the venture will manage these concerns. 

The majority of ConocoPhillips’ oil and natural gas reserves and production are within Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) nations. 

Some of the world’s most resource-rich areas, however, are in countries that pose risks associated with political instability, inadequate rule of law or corruption. Consequently, ConocoPhillips has adopted comprehensive enterprise risk management tools to evaluate and manage these types of risks. Before entering a new country — or for other new developments, when warranted by the geopolitical environment — the company assesses the political risk of a potential investment. 

The company has developed internal guidelines to help employees comply with policies related to business activities in sensitive countries, and applicable government regulations in areas subject to U.S. or international sanctions. 

We also perform due diligence on acquisitions or divestments of businesses or properties, new business ventures, incorporated and unincorporated joint-venture agreements, and initiations and terminations of property leases or subleases. This process is designed to ensure that past, present and potential HSE liabilities and any social issues are clearly identified, understood and documented, with our sustainable development positions addressed prior to major business transactions. This due-diligence standard applies to ConocoPhillips and its global subsidiaries, and we strive to influence all affiliated companies and joint ventures to conduct due diligence before undertaking binding business transactions. 

Following completion of the due-diligence assessment, a corporate HSE non-objection request that also addresses social issues is required for all major business transactions. The non-objection letter provides documentation that past, present and potential HSE liabilities have been adequately identified and assessed for the transaction, and that the liability risks are or can be satisfactorily mitigated.