Land use, resettlement, and livelihood restoration
We respect property rights in the countries and communities where we operate, and we seek to avoid involuntary resettlement and to minimize the need for voluntary resettlement through a disciplined site selection process. In situations where resettlement is unavoidable, our objective is to restore or improve the standards of living and livelihoods of people who are displaced.
As part of our process, we assess multiple potential locations for our operations based on criteria such as availability, accessibility and safety, as well as environmental and social considerations. Our screening process includes a broad range of interrelated factors specific to each country, community, and area. These include local demographics, sources and levels of employment, housing, gender relations, marginalized groups, ecosystem services, regional conflicts or tension, religious and cultural sites.
If land is necessary for a project, we adhere to host-country regulations governing land acquisition, in addition to our own internal standards. Of course, if projects are externally financed, we naturally adhere to lender stipulations regarding land use, access, and resettlement requirements. Resettlement is considered “involuntary” when affected individuals or communities do not have the right of refusal, such as when eminent domain applies. Any projects requiring resettlement are subject to heightened review by ExxonMobil senior management.
When physical or economic displacement occurs, we implement fair and transparent resettlement and compensation plans in compliance with regulatory requirements and consistent with recognized benchmarks such as IFC Performance Standard 5. These plans are specific to the geographies and cultures of each location, informed by engagement with landowners and others who may be affected and supported by detailed surveys of housing structures, gardens, wildlife, sources of nature-based products, harvesting areas, and other assets. Throughout the process, we maintain transparency with stakeholders and offer a community grievance mechanism.
In Papua New Guinea, for example, pre-construction surveys have been used to help our affiliate assess the potential impact of projects in the area and determine compensation for affected families. Between 2019 and 2021, a total of 35 households received compensation. For example, 11 families received compensation in 2019 related to our work on a new well pad – six months later, 10 of them had improved standard of living in the area and one moved outside the project area. In 2022, additional 14 households received compensation related to pipeline remediation work at two river crossings. All 49 families have received compensation for resettlement since 2019, many of whom received additional livelihood restoration support.
Additional information on resettlement and livelihood restoration programs associated with our operations in Papua New Guinea can be found in the ExxonMobil PNG 2022 Environmental and Social Report.