We actively engage with stakeholders in local communities and include their feedback in our decision-making processes to identify any issues or concerns early on in a project. We provide local groups and individuals with communication channels — including open houses, community meetings and individual meetings — to voice concerns so interested stakeholders and community members have the opportunity to be heard. We invite interested stakeholders and community members so they are fairly represented in our public consultation activities.
We are informed by guidance from the International Finance Corporation and IPIECA, the oil and gas industry association for environmental and social issues, which provides for systematic and transparent grievance management processes to address concerns related to projects.
We use our Upstream Socioeconomic Management Standard to identify potential socioeconomic impacts and their associated risks early in the Upstream asset life cycle, and then develop and implement appropriate avoidance, reduction, remedy and monitoring measures. By outlining different expectations based on the identification of relevant socioeconomic aspects, the Standard ensures that our Upstream activities proactively identify socioeconomic risks and implement timely well-balanced solutions.
Performance and initiatives
Our community-tailored grievance management processes are clearly communicated through our ongoing community engagement, and allow us to track, analyze and respond to community grievances in a timely and effective manner. In 2016, we received and responded to 31 grievances concerning our liquefied natural gas project in Papua New Guinea, which has been operating for two years. At our Sakhalin-1 facilities, where we have been operating for more than 10 years, we received and responded to five grievances in 2016. By working collaboratively and transparently with local communities, we can help avoid or reduce our impacts on communities, enhance benefits, avert delays, reduce costs and prevent the escalation of issues.
Our operations sometimes take place in areas inhabited or historically used by indigenous peoples. In these locations, we start by identifying indigenous populations and then engage with them in open and inclusive consultation, including the consideration of their traditions and cultures.
Our interactions with indigenous peoples around the world are consistent with the following guidelines:
When working with indigenous peoples, one of our key objectives is to determine how they prefer to engage. For example, communities can decide if they want us to meet with elected leaders, community elders or other representatives, and whether those engagements should be conducted in a public forum, either formal or informal. We empower the communities to establish their preference for how often and how long their members meet with ExxonMobil representatives, and who will provide their viewpoints or represent their wishes.
We believe developing opportunities for indigenous communities to participate in training and employment benefits these communities and our business. We are sensitive to local communities’ concerns about balancing their cultural heritage with the desire for economic development, even after our operations have ceased. Wherever we work with indigenous peoples, we support both local employment initiatives and cultural heritage programs through local content development and strategic community investments.
Additionally, we continue to participate in IPIECA’s task force on free prior and informed consent, which focuses on gaining clarity on the definition and best practices for working with indigenous peoples. IPIECA continues to monitor developments related to this topic and held periodic sessions and webinars to share local knowledge and discuss emerging trends.
Performance and initiatives
In 2016, our Sakhalin-1 project in Russia received a national corporate citizenship award at an annual meeting of indigenous peoples for our efforts to develop a tripartite agreement with local government officials and indigenous peoples to restore the local reindeer population.
Up Close: Supporting indigenous communities in Alaska
With ExxonMobil’s support, the University of Alaska at Fairbanks is creating the Northern Alaska Indigenous Leadership Academy (NAILA), which will help Alaska Natives develop the skills to implement sustainable community development initiatives and fulfill leadership roles in their communities. This new program includes a one-week on-campus training course designed to strengthen wellness, leadership and community sustainability among indigenous peoples living in the Interior and North Slope of Alaska, where our Point Thomson facilities are located. ExxonMobil’s contribution will provide scholarships covering travel, tuition and fees for 25 NAILA program participants.
Vice chancellor of rural, community and native education for the University of Alaska, Fairbanks
"Without the generosity of ExxonMobil, NAILA wouldn’t be possible. Their gift underscores our shared commitment to developing a new generation of Alaska Native leaders and building sustainable rural communities."
Cultural heritage and diversity
We are sensitive to concerns around balancing cultural heritage with the desire for economic development. Our respect for the cultural heritage and customs of local communities carries into our everyday business practices. For our Upstream projects, we incorporate design and execution considerations such as cultural, spiritual or sacred heritage sites and areas, biodiversity conservation, traditional knowledge and sustainable resource management into our project planning.
Prior to starting work in an area, we identify potential sites of cultural significance using a cultural heritage identification process. Additionally, we leverage relevant studies to deepen the knowledge among our workforce and provide training to our construction and field contractor personnel on managing cultural heritage aspects in the areas in which we work. Our objective is to preserve cultural sites and artifacts appropriately.
Performance and initiatives
Up Close: Supporting traditional subsistence practices in Kaktovik, Alaska
The village of Kaktovik, located within the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge Coastal Plain, is home to approximately 250 to 300 residents of Inupiat native descent whose ancestors have lived in the area for centuries. Our Point Thomson project is located 60 miles west of Kaktovik.
The ground layer that remains frozen year-round in Arctic regions is known as permafrost. For thousands of years, Native Inupiat people have practiced a subsistence way of life by gathering a majority of their food from the land and waters that surround them and storing it in an ice cellar, dug by hand in the permafrost. The natural permafrost “freezer” provides a traditional method of preserving the subsistence harvest. Warming conditions in the Arctic have caused thermal erosion of permafrost, resulting in changes to surface water flow and ground temperature. This has rendered many existing ice cellar locations unsuitable for use to preserve food.
Based on ExxonMobil-funded research in 2009 and 2010, the University of Alaska at Fairbanks evaluated modern design concepts and site selection factors to improve the thermal stability and function of traditional ice cellars. In 2013, with the help of ExxonMobil, the Kaktovik Community Foundation initiated site selection, design and construction of a prototype ice cellar using buried ground thermosiphons to improve the permafrost thermal stability around the cellar hole. In addition, temperature and humidity sensors were installed to relay data measurements via satellite on the ice cellar’s performance.
ExxonMobil congratulates the Kaktovik community on completion of this ice cellar in 2016 and is proud to support this culturally significant effort that utilizes traditional knowledge and modern science to provide for the needs of the community. Success of this ice cellar design will provide important knowledge for other Inupiat communities and may prove to be the answer for continuing this culturally important means of preserving subsistence harvested meat for generations to come.
Land use and resettlement
Whenever land is necessary for projects, we adhere to applicable host-country regulatory requirements that govern land acquisition. If projects are externally financed, we comply with land use, access and resettlement requirements stipulated by the lender(s). Consistent with the 2012 International Finance Corporation Performance Standards, when working on traditional lands, we endeavor to obtain the free, prior and informed consent of indigenous peoples before initiating significant development activities.
We understand that community members often have concerns about how our activities may affect their land and way of life. When managing land-use-related impacts, we aim to minimize involuntary resettlement through a disciplined multidimensional site selection process. Several potential locations are typically assessed based on technical criteria such as availability, accessibility, safety, security and constructability, as well as environmental and social considerations. All of these factors are then evaluated and locations are ranked to determine the lowest-risk options.
There are several cases where we have rerouted infrastructure or chosen an alternative site for a facility to address resettlement-related concerns. When physical or economic displacement is unavoidable, we seek to ensure the restoration of the livelihoods of displaced persons by developing and implementing location-specific resettlement action plans. These plans are informed by consultations with landowners as well as surveying and mapping of housing structures, gardens, wildlife, natural products, harvesting areas and other assets. Assessment teams also identify resettled individuals or groups who may be more affected by the displacement than others. When appropriate, we closely monitor these individuals or groups and assign them to priority resettlement assistance programs.
Performance and initiatives
ExxonMobil employs practices and policies to respect property rights in the locations where we operate, and we pay particular attention to those areas populated by indigenous peoples. ExxonMobil was not involved in the resettlement of any individuals from indigenous populations in 2016.