We consult with communities throughout the life cycle of projects and operations and develop plans to manage any related impacts
Oil and gas projects and operations have the potential to affect communities in a positive way by creating jobs, generating tax revenues, providing opportunities for local suppliers and supporting community development initiatives. Negative impacts may occur if a company does not appropriately consider the concerns of nearby communities. For example, as part of our Tangguh expansion project in Indonesia, we created an alternative route to a cultural heritage site after engaging with local villagers and learning that access to the site would have been blocked by our activities. We screen for possible socio-economic impacts during project planning and conduct impact assessments to help us avoid or mitigate negative impacts.
Our ability to operate safely and continuously depends not only on the necessary official permits from authorities, but also informal permission and support from the communities in the surrounding area. We aim to build enduring, mutually beneficial relationships with communities and strive for continuous open dialogue so that we may work together to address potential positive and negative socio-economic impacts. In Georgia, where we operate more than 800 kilometres of pipeline, we hold regular meetings with local communities to provide updates on our activities, communicate safety awareness and receive general feedback on our project, including concerns and requests. We held more than 500 community consultations in Georgia in 2015. In one session, for example, a community requested improvements to village access to major roads as part of a broader project to upgrade road infrastructure. We worked with our contractor and were able to address the community’s request. In Australia, we consulted with more than 60 stakeholder groups, such as non-governmental organizations (NGOs), governments, local and indigenous communities and other industries, to share information on our planned drilling programme in the Great Australian Bight. The consultation process provided an opportunity for members of the community to raise their concerns, ask questions and express their interest in potential economic opportunities. Stakeholders could also provide input on our environmental plan, which includes our planned activity, potential impacts to the environment, and proposed mitigation measures.
We believe that listening and responding to concerns raised by the communities in which we operate enables all sides to constructively resolve potential disagreements and avoid disruption to our activities. We require our businesses to respond to community and stakeholder concerns and to record and act on any commitments. For example at our South Caucasus pipeline expansion project in Azerbaijan and Georgia, we aim to register and acknowledge community grievances within seven days, and address them within 30 days. Our grievance mechanisms can lead to improvements in the way we do business and work with local communities. For example, when leasing land for a project, we have a formal process for compensating registered landowners. When we received a complaint in Georgia from a group of farmers who were concerned that our activities could potentially impact their livelihood, we recognized the need to develop a way to compensate all bona fide users on project land, regardless of whether they held registered rights. By changing our approach, we have compensated more than 370 community members through three BP-established community-based organizations. In 2015 concerns and requests raised by communities living near our major operations included noise, odour, dust, job opportunities for local residents, community investment programmes, flaring and access to roads. We worked with our peers through the oil and gas industry association IPIECA to develop and promote guidance that integrates human rights into community grievance management. In line with our human rights policy commitments, in 2015 we reviewed our approach to managing community complaints. We began evaluating community grievance mechanisms at our key sites using the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights to identify areas for improvement.