The search for oil is bringing petroleum engineers increasingly face to face with the world's Indigenous Peoples. Simultaneously, Indigenous Peoples, conscious of the international value of resources such as oil, are becoming increasingly better organized, rights-savvy, and globally connected.
Acting in a socially responsible manner is important for the petroleum industry both from the perspective of ethics as well as from the perspective of reputation. This paper describes how Indigenous Peoples can be engaged on an equitable basis, giving them full respect, identifying how best to mitigate any potential adverse impacts and identify in a participatory manner how they can be enabled to benefit from any Project.
Work experience among Indigenous Peoples in Russia and throughout Asia leads the authors to identify the importance of 'respect' for Indigenous Peoples' values and cultures. This can avoid multi-million dollar delays and maintain a company's reputation.
Focusing on the Sakhalin II oil and LNG project in Russia's Far East, the paper advises companies to create a special indigenous space within their corporate hierarchy; with Human Resources, Finance and External Affairs having to adapt their normal procedures and styles. By seemingly "giving away the store," but actually "giving face" to often marginalized economic and social actors, those in charge of the Indigenous Peoples strategy at Sakhalin Energy countermanded corporate logic while embracing a philosophy of cultural and ethnic partnership.
The paper describes what is considered to be best practice (in terms of international and national laws and policies). It then discusses how various contemporary projects in Far Eastern Russia and Indonesia, inter alia, attain these standards. Finally we shall propose a set of standards and best practices that should be adopted by professionals working in the Petroleum industry that take into account the concerns and priorities of Indigenous Peoples.