People around the world talk a lot about environmental issues. They’re topics that are receiving a lot of attention – and that’s a good thing.
As an oil and natural gas company with a commitment to environmental stewardship, we want to understand different views and be part of the conversation. At the same time, we want to engage in discussions and develop relationships with people and communities where we operate.
But does the company think about people and communities in the same way – or as much? We say the answer is yes. We run our business under a set of guiding principles that we call our SPIRIT Values of Safety, People, Integrity, Responsibility, Innovation and Teamwork. They are shared by everyone in our company. They set the tone for how we behave with our stakeholders. They are shared by everyone in our company. And they drive the way we care about the communities where we live and work.
We think about communities during our daily work and decision-making. Just as safety and environmental responsibility are top priorities for our business, so are our relationships and responsibilities to communities. These relationships are an important part of our social license to operate.
We think about creating jobs, supporting community investments and, most importantly, understanding how a community feels about our activities near where they live. It’s important for us to have a strong community connection, and in order to operate effectively we want to hear from communities about local issues and concerns. They can and do contribute diverse ideas and valuable perspectives. We listen. This helps us be better at what we do.
An example of our community engagement is in Alaska’s North Slope. As an active explorer and operator since the 1960s, ConocoPhillips and its heritage companies (Arco, Phillips) have always strived to build positive relationships across Alaska, including communities of subsistence hunters and whalers spread across the vast North Slope.
We listen and continue to learn from the Native traditions and culture. For example, we consult nearby landowners before commencing operations and seek the traditional knowledge of local elders to help plan our activities. Additionally, we strive to help communities meet basic needs and stimulate economic and social development, while ensuring that our operations protect local residents and the environment.
We know Alaska is a special place. We consider it a privilege to work with the residents and government leaders to ensure sustainable oil and natural gas development helps build a strong future for all Alaskans. By supporting educational, volunteer and outreach efforts, developing technology that minimizes our impact and operating with high environmental standards, we’re helping provide the energy needed to drive economic growth and support a stable and healthy environment.
Another example of our commitment to engaging communities was in the Maranon Basin of the Peruvian Amazon where we conducted a seismic program from 2010 to 2012. To help build understanding and support for the program, we researched the social hierarchy, culture and traditions of local communities. We also consulted communities in order to understand their priorities, expectations and preferences for dialogue. ConocoPhillips Peru engaged with communities at the regional, local and individual levels, and we met regularly with local leaders, community associations and regional governments to hear their views so we could respond to their issues and concerns.
Our experience working in the region uncovered a lot of challenges. The locati on was geographically remote, and communities near our activities face difficulties gaining access to employment, services and basic necessities. There are also issues with local infrastructure, including medical services, educational services, utilities and transportation. Many communities rely on local subsistence for their livelihoods.
The Maranon Basin is a sensitive and challenging place. That’s why it was important for ConocoPhillips Peru to identify ways to respect the land and local ways of life, address concerns and contribute to the well-being of communities. In Peru, we put our commitment in writing through an agreement – a “convenio” – with local communities, contributed financial assistance to social and environmental projects and created local job opportunities. We reached out to communities and other stakeholders across the region to understand local issues and concerns better and to discuss our planned activities. Between 2010 and 2012, we visited more than 60 communities in the region and held more than 780 community meetings.
Our Peru-based community relations team spent most of its time visiting with local communities and hosting workshops on different subjects, including:
- Seismic and other potential development activities and their impacts.
- Regulations for the hydrocarbon sector and International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention 169 regarding indigenous and tribal peoples.
- Roles and rights of communities in environmental monitoring as required by our permits and regulatory commitments.
ConocoPhillips Peru, in compliance with the Peruvian government’s expectations and regulations, entered into a convenio with communities in the project area. The convenio documented community consent and detailed compensation terms for disruptions in land use or activities caused by seismic operations.
When needed, we covered the cost of transportation to support community review of our work. For example, we facilitated the Environmental Vigilance Committees’ visits to our operational sites where the committees provided community recommendations on environmental, safety, labor and health matters. Recommendations were then used in our operational activities and validated during later visits.
We also made a positive difference through social investment projects, which were used in our business planning and Environmental and Social Impact Assessment processes in Peru. We supported projects focused on education and skills development, community health and environmental protection, as well as social, artistic and cultural activities.
Finally, our field activities and seismic work in the Maranon Basin created more than 1,100 local jobs.
In the last quarter of 2012, we announced a decision to end our Peru exploration program. Consistent with our strong working relationships there, we met again with each of the communities to deliver this news in person. We are also fulfilling all the obligations we made to these communities, and this will continue contributing to the well-being of Peru.