As an operator, we endeavour to gain support for our presence by involving local stakeholders in a timely manner throughout the lifetime of our operations. Statoil strives to share information about initial decisions and project design at an early stage. We continue the dialogue during development and implementation in order to identify and address concerns in a timely manner. Irrespective of such feedback, we independently monitor projects in order to identify associated impacts that affect local communities and stakeholders.
In our guidelines for project development and integrated impact assessment, we have developed a set of guiding principles for our engagement with communities and other local stakeholders during the impact assessment process. In summary:
- Consultations with community stakeholders must be initiated already during the early scoping process for projects, and they must be held on a regular basis during the remainder of the impact assessment process in order to identify and follow up potential impacts on these stakeholders so that their views can be incorporated into the decision-making process.
- If ongoing impacts on and risks to the affected communities are
expected, arenas for dialogue should be established throughout the project's lifetime (regular meetings, newsletters, stakeholder forums, etc).
- The consultation process should be tailored to the language preferences of the affected communities, their decision-making processes and the needs of disadvantaged or vulnerable groups.
- In projects with potentially significant impacts, and where otherwise relevant, community grievance mechanisms should also be considered from the very beginning of the project process. They should be in place during construction and operations and until the end of the project.
- In projects where indigenous peoples could be among the
impacted communities or individuals, free, prior and informed consultations should be held in order to facilitate effective participation in matters that affect them directly, such as proposed mitigation measures, the sharing of development benefits and opportunities, and implementation issues. The consultation process should be culturally appropriate and commensurate with the risks to and potential impacts on indigenous peoples. Specific consideration of literacy levels is required. Furthermore, the special rights of indigenous peoples as recognised by host-country legislation and international standards will need to be addressed.
Stakeholder dialogue in Brazil
In some countries like Brazil, there are governmental requirements specific to the dialogue with local communities. Our engagement there has been carried out in the following manner:
The Environmental Education Campaign (PEA) and the Social Communication Project (PCS) in Brazil are processes mandated by the National Environmental Agency (IBAMA) as part of the licensing requirements. Both processes have been implemented and will continue through the life cycle of the Peregrino project, in local fishing communities and municipalities affected by the offshore field's activities.
During its first two years, the PEA process is being implemented in two municipalities as a pilot project. The process is aimed at strengthening community organisations directly and indirectly involved in local fishing activities. The method is educational. It supports the emancipation of women and recognises their role in society, economic life, social issues and environmental activities.
In many fishing communities, women are considered secondary. They do not fish in the open sea and are left to harvest crabs and shellfish and clean shrimp. Their income is very small compared with the price of the end product sold. For example, they might clean 20 kilograms of fish for the equivalent of one US dollar, while a dish made from some 200 grams of fish is sold in tourist areas for 25 times that amount.
By the end of the PEA programme's second year, a common agenda will be established with participating groups regarding social and environmental issues and mitigation of impacts created by the oil industry.
The Social Communication Project's main objective is to annually inform local fishing communities about our offshore operations and to monitor the 500-metre safety zone around our platforms on a daily basis. In 2011, we achieved the project's main objectives, and shared information about new government rules and benefits for fisherman that are in effect in 2012. We also established a partnership with an organisation called Federal Public Attorneys, who inform local fishermen and their wives about important matters such as retirement, disability and pregnancy insurance benefits. Many are not aware of these benefits.
These programmes are essential to the process of building good relationships with the local fishing communities that we impact. Good project management is imperative if we are to avoid conflicts that cause delays in the permit process and in building the necessary reliability for other engagements we pursue in the future.