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Hehe... "sustainable" oil and gas

Danny Ruspandini - Impact Labs Australia
Danny R.

I'm often trawling the web for consultancies who specialise in various areas of sustainability. There's a lot of seriously cool stuff happening around the world right now.

Occasionally though, I come across something that takes the wind out of my sails. I'll be honest - this one made me a little mad.

I downloaded a questionably titled guide called "Sustainable Solutions for the Oil and Gas Industry" from a consultancy I'd never heard of (I'm not big on naming and shaming so I'll hold onto that for now, but this one may tip me over that point)... let's just say they have the word "sustainability" plastered all over everything.

Although I was pretty skeptical when I downloaded it, I honestly didn't know what to expect, so I was hopeful of seeing encouraging things like, I dunno, maybe strategies the O&G industry can apply to transition from fossils to renewables, or something like that.

Instead, this:

Many oil and gas projects get delayed because of adverse reaction from the local community. In our experience, early, professional and well directed community consultation can achieve huge positive results not just for the initial phases of the project, but if handled correctly, for the duration of the venture. Concerns about the costs and resources required to ensure effective community engagement typically disappear at the first signs of community backlash.

I'm no big consultancy expert, but to me that doesn't sound like a "Sustainable Solution". All that looks like to me, is rather than our consultancy here advising their O&G client to not run that fracking project, or guiding them to divert the resources to something more sustainable, they're just removing all the annoying barriers like cranky residents, so the project can happen.

Let's nitpick the hell out of this:

"Many oil and gas projects get delayed..." - so this sustainability consultancy isn't trying to reduce the number of new O&G projects, they're just trying to minimise the delays in getting them started.

"...early, professional and well directed community consultation can achieve huge positive results not just for the initial phases of the project, but if handled correctly, for the duration of the venture..." - a community that's angry about an O&G project, probably won't be un-angered by the people behind that project making empty promises. Which says to me (this is a big assumption on my part) that the promises they're making are probably ones they can't keep.

"Concerns about the costs and resources required to ensure effective community engagement typically disappear at the first signs of community backlash." - I'm not an expert on our Traditional Land Owners but again, a community that's pissed about a fracking project under their land probably doesn't care about the cost and resources - they care about the land. The fact that the O&G company thinks the community cares which resources they'll use to carve the place up, is a pretty hilarious example of not-reading-the-room. They don't care which big-rig you drive up in mate, they don't want your there at all.

(Fracking is a risky, brute-force way of extracting gas and oil from the ground, and has been linked to earthquakes, contaminated water supplies, volatile gases released into the air, flammability - we don't need fracking projects, but they're still happening).

Facing facts, that guide was not meant for our eyes to read - it's a marketing piece for the O&G industry. Later in the guide, they outline the 5-step process of their "Sustainability Advice", where step 4 is "Contaminated Site Management", so dealing with contamination is actually a part of the process. Step 5 is hilariously called "Air Quality and Climate Change" - they literally spell out in their process that Climate is an afterthought.

The 3 steps prior are all about securing funding, site selection, deal negotiations, and... a step called Oil Spill Preparedness. So they know the spills will happen before the project has even been funded.

There may be a name and shame on this one, it's pretty awful. If you stumble across the guide, my humble suggestion is maybe don't hire these clowns for sustainability advice.

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