Reuters | 21 April 2014

Apache CEO, Vermont Activist Build Alliance

Steve Farris runs a USD-33-billion Texas oil and gas company and turns, for advice, to a bearded Vermont environmentalist.

As other energy firms battled climate change and antipollution activists in recent years, the Apache chief executive instead built an alliance with Steven Heim, managing director of Boston Common Asset Management, one of the better-known socially responsible investment firms.

The relationship helped Apache sidestep time-consuming proxy fights that have plagued some of its peers, in exchange for changes like committing to protect the rights of native peoples living near remote gas projects, and using cleaner chemicals in hydraulic fracturing, a drilling method that environmentalists say could threaten groundwater.

Heim also stages investor meetings for Apache where its executives and engineers take questions on topics such as pollution or human rights. These draw representatives from mainstream investment firms such as T. Rowe Price, Gabelli & Co, and Morgan Stanley & Co.

“What I’ve been trying to do is to elevate the level of understanding of issues by the investors, not just the executives,” Heim said.

IPIECA | 20 March 2014

Integrating Human Rights Into Environmental, Social, and Health Impact Assessments

A guide released by IPIECA offers practical advice on how human rights can be integrated into environmental, social, and health impact assessments (ESHIAs) for oil and gas sector projects.

Designed for industry ESHIA practitioners and consulting firms, the guide is the outcome of a collaborative effort by impact assessment experts from global oil and gas companies brought together by IPIECA and human rights practitioners from the Danish Institute for Human Rights. Working together, they have attempted to bridge the gaps in terminology, processes, and approaches between the ESHIA and human rights impact assessment communities.

In addition to providing a brief introduction to human rights, the guide explains why it is important for the sector to consider the potential human rights impacts of its projects and activities.



Workshop Examines Technology of Social Responsibility

Because social responsibility is growing in importance in oil and gas operations, SPE will conduct an applied technology workshop that will highlights state-of-the-art technologies and their role in social responsibility strategies in extremely sensitive environments.

The multidisciplinary workshop will deal with the most outstanding challenges and achievements in advanced technology as they apply to health, safety, security, environment, and social responsibility. It will be held 27–29 May in Quito, Ecuador.

Organizations must understand and communicate social responsibility risks to stakeholders early in the project cycle so that a foundation of trust and good communication is established with the often critical stakeholders affected by development in extremely sensitive environments. Many oil and gas operators have recently learned that social responsibility issues need to be at the front of the planning train in order to establish a sustainable development plan.

This workshop intends to explore and discuss some of these key technologies, what has worked, what has not worked, and areas where future technological innovation is necessary to strengthen the social license to operate in extremely sensitive environments. It will also provide an opportunity to share and learn from the field experiences of successful industry players.

Workshops maximize the exchange of ideas among attendees and presenters through brief technical presentations followed by extended question and answer periods. Focused topics attract an informed audience eager to discuss issues critical to advancing both technology and best practices.

Many of the presentations are in the form of case studies, highlighting engineering achievements and lessons learned. In order to stimulate frank discussion, no proceedings are published and members of the press are not invited to attend.

The workshop will consist of two days of informal sessions with a number of short presentations and a third half day for conclusions and recommendations.

Attendees qualify for SPE continuing education units at the rate of 0.1 unit per hour of the workshop and will receive a certificate from SPE.

Preservation Leadership Forum | 28 February 2014

The Converging Roads to Energy Independence and Heritage Preservation

Hydraulic fracturing, or the extraction of natural gas from rock formations called shale, has enabled the United States to become the largest natural gas producer in the world, ahead of Russia and Saudi Arabia. The United States, which for so long has been an importer of natural gas, is now poised to become an exporter. The shale gas industry will support more than 1.6 million jobs by 2035. The shale gas boom is fueling not only robust economic development but also addressing national security concerns and providing a cleaner bridge fuel to renewable energy resources.

It is important to balance this development, which includes not only well pads but also pipelines, roads, and associated infrastructure, with protection for our historic and cultural resources. The Society for American Archaeology has estimated that more than 195,000 historic and cultural sites may be affected by shale gas development in just the nine currently active shale plays.

Many natural gas energy executives love and want to preserve our shared history. And preservation professionals understand the need for the development of sustainable sources of fuel. In an effort to bring these two groups together and ensure that shale gas development and historic preservation can coexist effectively, last fall, people from the natural gas industry and the preservation community founded the Gas and Preservation Partnership (GAPP). GAPP is an innovative nonprofit organization whose mission is to work collaboratively and pragmatically with both the preservation community and the energy industry to identify and properly manage historic and cultural resources while encouraging efficient exploration and development of energy reserves.

Rigzone | 5 February 2014

Morocco Says It Will Follow UN Rules in Disputed Sahara Oil Hunt

Morocco has joined France’s Total and US explorer Kosmos to formally pledge that their hunt for oil off the coast of disputed Western Sahara will comply with international rules and that the local population would benefit from discoveries.

Morocco has issued exploration licenses for blocks in Atlantic waters off Western Sahara, a desert tract that it mostly controls but which is also claimed by an Algerian-backed independence movement that deems those contracts illegal.

The Western Sahara dispute has rarely made world headlines since 1991, when a UN-brokered ceasefire ended a 15-year war between Morocco and the Algerian-backed Polisario movement.

But the intentions of Total and Kosmos to step up exploration plans have brought one of Africa’s oldest territorial disputes into focus. Kosmos has said it plans to drill its first exploration well off Western Sahara this year.

Morocco’s two declarations, signed separately with each of the companies, represent the north African state’s clearest commitment yet to respect international rules and seek local involvement in oil and gas exploration activities in an area it considers part of its historic “southern provinces.”

Mongabay | 4 February 2014

Total Vows Not To Drill at World Heritage Sites

One of the world’s largest oil and gas companies, Total, has committed to leave the planet’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites untouched, according to the United Nations. The UN says the French energy giant has sent written confirmation that it will not explore or extract fossil fuels from any of the world’s over 200 natural World Heritage Sites.

“Total’s commitment clearly shows that operating in World Heritage sites is not an option for responsible extractive industries,” Julia Marton-Lefèvre, the director general of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). “It gives us hope that the oil and gas, and mining sectors as a whole will fully embrace their shared responsibility towards the conservation of our planet’s most valuable and irreplaceable places.”

As easily accessible fossil fuel reserves run out, more and more companies are pursuing new reserves in formally protected areas, including World Heritage Sites. For example, Soco International is currently undertaking seismic testing in Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, while Pluspetrol is conducting exploration in an indigenous reserve that serves as a buffer zone to Manu National Park in Peru. Both Virunga and Manu are World Heritage Sites. In fact, data from 2011 found that a quarter of Africa’s World Heritage Sites were threatened by oil, gas, or mining projects.

Dornim Solicitors And Legal Consultants via Mondaq | 30 January 2014

Nigeria: An Overview Of The Petroleum Industry Bill

The Petroleum Industry Bill 2012 (PIB) seeks to ensure that the management and allocation of petroleum resources in Nigeria and their derivatives are conducted in accordance with the principles of good governance, transparency, and sustainable development in Nigeria. The PIB was submitted to the National Assembly on 18 July 2012 and is expected to be deliberated upon and enacted into law in the near future.

LNG Industry | 9 January 2014

Column: European LNG Industry Struggles With ‘Not in My Backyard’

With a demand that is expected to double by 2030, Europe’s liquified natural gas (LNG) industry is currently experiencing rapid growth. Import facilities are now cropping up throughout Europe as LNG creates opportunities for energy security outside of the traditional bounds of pipelines. However, despite the industry’s rapid growth, safety and environmental concerns are driving local opposition forces in communities to take a “Not In My Backyard” (NIMBY) stance against LNG projects. Europe is all too familiar with NIMBY opposition, and while European countries seek to expand their capacities, local activists who oppose LNG seek to exaggerate the negatives to put a stop to LNG proposals in their communities. Industry leaders will need to consider the costly effects of ‘NIMBY-ism’ in Europe during the project planning stages, as they assess the risks associated with an LNG proposal. Failure to do so could cause companies to miss out on the numerous opportunities LNG will offer throughout Europe. | 6 December 2013

Devon Energy Named One of Most Community-Minded Companies

Devon Energy remains one of the most community-minded companies in the United States.

The Oklahoma City-based oil and natural gas producer on 5 December was named to The Civic 50, a comprehensive ranking aimed at identifying companies that best use their time, talent, and resources to improve the quality of life in the communities where they do business.

Devon has been part of the list published by Bloomberg since its inception last year.

Dave Hager, the company’s chief operating officer, said Devon is proud of its place on the list.

He said it is important from a business perspective for the company to be part of the community with a strong civic presence.

“As business leaders, we have an important responsibility to help identify problems and pursue opportunities to improve the quality of life in our community,” Hager said. “The values that underpin our corporate culture—doing the right thing, being a good neighbor—are every bit as good for our business as they are for our community.”

Fuel Fix | 6 December 2013

North Dakota Launching Website To Notify Public of Spills

It took nearly two weeks for North Dakota officials to tell the public about an autumn pipeline rupture that caused more than 20,000 bbl of crude to ooze across a northwestern wheat field.

In response to extensive media coverage and criticism from environmental groups, the North Dakota Health Department will launch a website sometime this week that will enable the public to monitor reported oil spills and other hazardous leaks.

Dave Glatt, chief of the department’s environmental health section, said that website visitors will be able to track recent spills and those that happened as far back as 1975.

“All of the historical numbers of the spills we have had will be on there,” Glatt said. “And we will be updating it manually about two times a week.”

Rigzone | 6 December 2013

Tullow Says It Has Learned Its Lesson After Having “Messed Up” in Kenya

Africa-focused Tullow Oil learned its lesson after messing up in Kenya, where community protests over local jobs and contracts halted exploration last month, a senior company official said.

Tullow and partner Africa Oil resumed drilling in Blocks 10BB and 13T earlier in November after reaching an agreement with leaders to prevent a repeat of protests.

“Tullow is no cowboy operator, no short-cutter. We were born, remember, onshore Africa and know full well that the head of the village can shut you down no matter what the head of state does,” Tim O’Hanlon, vice president of Tullow’s African business, told delegates at an oil and gas conference organized by Global Pacific & Partners.

He said the company, which has operations across the continent, prided itself on getting “stakeholder issues” right from the start—industry speak for getting buy-in from local communities.

“And yet, we messed up. We must have messed up. We mustn’t have been communicating our good messages properly,” O’Hanlon said in an unusually contrite admission. The company had learned its lesson, he said, without elaborating.

Oil and Gas iQ | 8 November 2013

Three Reasons Why We Should, Why We Aren’t, And How We Can Reduce Gas Flaring

Natural Gas flaring has been a constant since the oil business began, but now the tables are turning on this common practice. Find out why and how we can cut flaring to a bare minimum and exactly why we’re only broaching the subject now.