For the past ten years, Chevron Niugini Limited has operated a collection of small oilfields in southwestern Papua New Guinea. The local communities surrounding the oilfield and pipeline facilities are spread over 13 language groups and 83 villages, scattered throughout dense tropical rainforest with little accessibility. To manage and mitigate the impacts of a petroleum development on such an isolated group of people, Chevron commissioned socio-economic impact studies for each area of operations and further anthropological and social analyses were completed over time. The needs and priorities identified from this research formed the basis for planning and implementing community development initiatives addressing the social needs of the community and the specific socio-economic impacts on them. These initiatives were implemented by staff of Chevron Niugini's community affairs group in partnership with government and non-government development agencies.
After reviewing lessons learned over time, Chevron and its joint venture participants in Papua New Guinea realised a new model should be established for implementing these initiatives. One that can promote improved partnerships and networking amongst development agencies and ensure sustainable results are achieved beyond the life of oil and gas production in the area. In developing such a model, Chevron drew upon the expertise of the organisations it has partnered with, such as the World Wildlife Fund. The new model resulted in the creation of the CDI Foundation, which serves as a more effective vehicle for implementing current initiatives while building capacity to promote sustainable social development in the long term. CDI stands for Community Development Initiatives. The Foundation builds upon the initiatives started by Chevron Niugini and leverages these with increasing participation from other development agencies and the community itself. This paper describes how this new model was established and what benefits it offers to the stakeholders involved.
Debates rage on around the world about the impacts of petroleum exploration and production in developing countries. Opposing viewpoints centre around questions of whether the positive impacts to the communities and the nations will outweigh the negative impacts of the rapid social change that occurs with such a rapid expansion of the local economy. The trade-off between positive and negative impacts varies from project to project and from country to country. Maximising the positive impacts however, is not achieved by the developers alone, but requires a shared vision amongst all stakeholders including the communities, the host country government and non-government organisations (NGOs) working with the communities.
Developing this shared vision is a challenge for many developers. In addition to the varied interests of each stakeholder that need to be reconciled, there are different organisational cultures that impact the way each group can contribute towards managing the social impacts in a way which will produce positive results that are truly sustainable. Petroleum companies have developed various models for managing social and environmental impacts and structuring the relationships with other stakeholders involved. After several years of lessons learned from its own efforts, Chevron Niugini Limited (CNGL) has developed a new model for building a shared vision of sustainable development that addresses the organisational and cultural differences of the stakeholders involved and builds upon their strengths. The sections below describe how and why this new model was developed, what benefits it offers each of the stakeholders and what it hopes to achieve in establishing a lasting legacy from the petroleum operations in PNG.