The Environment and Community Relations
Our operations in Papua New Guinea are subject to an environmental law regime which includes laws concerning emissions of substances into, and pollution and contamination of, the atmosphere, waters and land, production, use, handling, storage, transportation and disposal of waste, hazardous substances and dangerous goods, conservation of natural resources, the protection of threatened and endangered flora and fauna and the health and safety of people.
These environmental laws require that our sites be operated, maintained, abandoned and reclaimed to standards set out in the relevant legislation. The significant Papua New Guinea laws applicable to our operations include the Environment Act 2000; the Oil & Gas Act 1998; the Dumping of Wastes at Sea Act (Ch. 369); the Conservation Areas Act (Ch.362); and the International Trade (Flora and Fauna) Act (Ch.391).
The Environment Act 2000 is the single most significant legislation affecting our operations. This regulates the environmental impact of development activities in order to promote sustainable development of the environment and the economic, social and physical well-being of people and imposes a duty to take all reasonable and practicable measures to prevent or minimize environmental harm. A breach of this Act can result in significant fines or penalties. Under the Compensation (Prohibition of Foreign Legal Proceedings) Act 1995, no legal proceedings for compensation claims arising from petroleum projects in Papua New Guinea may be taken up or pursued in any foreign court unless proceedings were first brought in a Papua New Guinea court for or in pursuance of the same or substantially the same compensation claim and;
- having been served, the defendant to such proceedings has not, within the time permitted, submitted to the jurisdiction of the Papua New Guinea court; or
- a final judgement has been given or a final determination has been made in relation to those proceedings in a Papua New Guinea court or a Papua New Guinea tribunal and the judgement or determination remains unsettled.
Compliance with Papua New Guinea’s environmental legislation can require significant expenditures. The environmental legislation regime is complex and subject to different interpretations. Although no assurances can be made, we believe that, absent the occurrence of an extraordinary event, continued compliance with existing Papua New Guinea laws regulating the release of materials into the environment or otherwise relating to the protection of the environment will not have a material effect upon our capital expenditures, earnings or competitive position with respect to our existing assets and operations, as has been the case during 2012.
Future legislative action and regulatory initiatives could result in changes to operating permits, additional remedial actions or increased capital expenditures and operating costs that cannot be assessed with certainty at this time.
Up until November 2012 we had outstanding loans with OPIC, an agency of the United States Government supporting the development of our refinery. OPIC is required by statute to conduct an environmental assessment of every project proposed for financing and to decline support for projects that, in OPIC’s judgment, would have an unreasonable or major adverse impact on the environment, or on the health or safety of workers in the host country.
For most industrial sectors, OPIC expects projects to meet the more stringent of the World Bank or host-country environmental, health and safety standards. OPIC systematically monitors compliance with environmental representations and non-compliance may constitute a default under loan agreements.
More stringent laws and regulations relating to climate change and greenhouse gases may be adopted in the future and could cause us to incur material expenses in complying with them. Regulatory initiatives could adversely affect the marketability of the refined products we produce and any oil and natural gas we may produce in the future. The impact of such future programs cannot be predicted.
Environmental and Social Policies
We have implemented an environmental policy which acknowledges that the principles of sustainable development are integral to responsible resource management. Under the policy, we will strive to minimize impacts on the physical environment, minimize negative social impacts and we accept the community desire to protect the natural environment from the material adverse effects of resource development. We routinely conduct “Environmental Risk Analysis” for major projects in which hazards to the environment are identified, with mitigating controls implemented and a “Hazard Register” developed to monitor any residual risks. We also develop project specific “Environmental Management, Monitoring & Reporting Plans”, in compliance with the PNG environmental protection legislation in order to monitor our ongoing compliance and performance. We have established corporate level controls in which all “near miss and real incidents” are reported, and investigated.
We have not adopted any specific social policies that are fundamental to our operations. However, we are committed to working closely with the communities we operate in and to complying with all laws and governmental regulations applicable to our activities, including maintaining a safe and healthy work environment and conducting our activities in full compliance with all applicable environmental laws.
Our Community Relations department oversees the management of community assistance programs and manages land acquisition related compensation claims and payments. Our development philosophy is based on “bottom-up planning” thus ensuring that all planning and development takes the local community into account. In relation to our midstream refining business, the department has developed a long-term community development assistance program that benefits the villages in the vicinity of the refinery. In addition, we have a team of officers associated with our upstream business who operate in the field and perform a wide variety of tasks. These include land owner identification studies, social mapping management, local recruitment, liaising with landowners, recording compensation payments to land owners and assisting in the provision of health and medical services in the areas in which our exploration activities are conducted.
Generally, the department works closely with government, landowners and the community in order to ensure that all our activities have a minimum environmental impact and to at least maintain, and generally improve, the quality of life of the people inhabiting the areas in which we work. We are currently undertaking the work required under PNG’s Oil & Gas Act and Environment Act to support an application for a PDL for the Elk and Antelope fields and other related licenses which will be required for pipelines and processing facilities associated with our LNG Project.These studies cover social mapping and landowner identification studies, socio economic impact statements, land investigations, benefit sharing models and other related base line studies. We have engaged expert consultants to assist us with the preparation of a detailed environmental impact statement and other baseline environmental and health studies.
These studies are a pre-requisite to the grant of a PDL and will allow us to advance the necessary planning to formulate our proposals as to the nature and distribution of project benefits, and will assist the State in convening a forum of all interested stakeholders at landowner, local and provincial government level for the purpose of procuring a development agreement on benefit sharing.