Moving from Conflict to Engagement with a Marginalised Community in Iraq Generates Mutual Trust, Improved Security and Business Continuity
- B. Skerritt (Rumaila Operating Organisation) | C. Boyd (Rumaila Operating Organisation) | H. Al-Mudhaffar (Rumaila Operating Organisation) | J. McDonald (BP plc) | A. Roscoe (Safestainable GmbH.)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- SPE International Conference and Exhibition on Health, Safety, Security, Environment, and Social Responsibility, 16-18 April, Abu Dhabi, UAE
- Publication Date
- Document Type
- Conference Paper
- 2018. Society of Petroleum Engineers
- 6.6.6 Partnership and Communication, 4.1.2 Separation and Treating, 4.1 Processing Systems and Design, 6.6 Sustainability/Social Responsibility, 6.6.4 Sustainable Development, 6 Health, Safety, Security, Environment and Social Responsibility, 4 Facilities Design, Construction and Operation
- Sustainable, Conflict, Engagement, Development, Community
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This paper will demonstrate that, instead of building higher security fences, the process of understanding marginalised and engaging with neighbouring communities is key to building relationships and neutralising hostility. It describes how the Rumaila Operating Organisation (the consortium), managing Iraq's largest oilfield - which generates 40% of the country's GDP - dealt with major unrest that forced the shutdown of operations. The situation was resolved by a sustainable community development program, based on thorough research and needs analysis.
The Rumaila oilfield must inject over 2 million barrels of industrial water/day by 2025 in order to continue producing 1.4 million barrels of oil/day. In 2013 construction to achieve this increased capacity from the Qarmat Ali Water Treatment Plant was halted for six months by gunfire, stone-throwing, violence and intimidation by the neighbouring community. They harbour a deep mistrust of outsiders; Saddam Hussein drained their marshes and persecuted them. A new approach was needed and Sheiks representing warring factions within the community were brought together by the organisation for the first time to identify the community's concerns and needs.
The new engagement approach was aimed at building mutual respect and trust, initially via the women, with these wary communities. This entry centres on stakeholder analysis and relationship-building in southern Iraq, which has significant security challenges, and how previously warring tribes are now coming together in the ‘Beautiful Game’ of football. The activities of 2013-15 laid the foundations for community engagement, while the period 2015-17 sought to reinforce these relationships together with a focus on delivering Social Investment projects centred on health, education, sport and recreation as part of the Rumaila Social Welfare Fund. The engagement and investment work undertaken by the consortium is also intended to support a number of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals1 in respect of community development and equity.
In addition, while community unrest was the catalyst for a root and branch review of community relations in Qarmat Ali, during this later period the consortium proactively engaged with villages in North Rumaila – communites that also neighbour the oilfield, and with similar social issues and challenges as Qarmat Ali. But here, the engagement wasn't prompted by community protest, rather by a systematic review and assessment of stakeholders and their relative needs.
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