As an international oil and gas operator, we have a responsibility towards the communities where we operate. These responsibilities include aiding the development of the economic and social conditions of local communities.
Supporting and sustaining the communities in which we operate is fundamental to our success and our commitment to being a sustainable business. Our work in the community is based on establishing partnerships to identify and meet community needs and ensure open and transparent dialogue in relation to our current operations and future plans.
Wherever we operate, we aim to link our investments to a local area’s needs and development priorities, as well as our own competencies and strengths as a business. Our focus is on the sustainability of our investments so that they make a real and lasting difference to communities in the long term with the ultimate aim that they will have in place self-sustaining livelihood programmes. Currently, the biggest impact we can have is at our two operating assets at Kerendan, Indonesia and Bualuang, Thailand.
Three core focus areas drive our activities:
- Community wellbeing (including through economic improvement and health initiatives)
- Environmental sustainability
The identification of these focus areas has been informed by our engagement with the local community in both Thailand and Indonesia and we outline below the steps we have taken in each of these regions.
Our 100% owned and operated Bualuang oil field in the Gulf of Thailand has been on-stream since 2008. The communities that are most impacted by our presence are a combination of fishing communities and the tourism business.
To understand and respond to community needs and concerns we have had permanent CSR representatives on-site. Our overarching approach is to assist the communities to make their own decisions on their needs, rather than a ‘top-down’ approach, with the aim that we work together to create sustainable livelihoods. To this end, in 2016 we concluded a three-year Asian Green Mussel Project sponsorship in Chumphon province. Now in its fourth year and run entirely by the local community, it is proving itself to be both self-sustaining and offering the opportunity of generating additional income that can be reinvested. From the learnings of this project, we are now supporting a new crab bank programme, with the aim of increasing the crab survival rate to enable a sustainable food resource and future income source.
For senior school students, we have continued with our Ordinary National Education Test tutorial programme, which annually supports 1500 rural students on their journey to tertiary education. In the absence of this programme, similar courses in major cities would be unaffordable to most, limiting their educational opportunities.
In 2017, as part of our community outreach programme, Ophir conducted a public lecture titled ‘Basic Petroleum knowledge and Petroleum Business in Thailand’. Delivered to 200 undergraduate students in the Faculty of Engineering, King Mongkut’s Institute of Technology Ladkrabang (KMITL) – Chumphon Campus, this was a first of its kind lecture in the region.
Our Kerendan gas field project is in an isolated area in central Kalimantan. Since 2014, we have been working with local villages and government authorities to create shared value and sustainable livelihoods, as well as addressing key health needs – a priority due to the remoteness of the communities.
We have worked hard to ensure the local communities benefit from our presence. This ranges from practical advice on agricultural husbandry through to provision of basic needs such as clean water. We are conscious however, that to be truly beneficial we must help the communities create sustainable businesses that can continue independently of our own projects, as well as meet more short-term, immediate needs. To this end, we continued with our support of organic vegetable harvesting and assisting in increasing their yields as a valuable source of food and income. We are also exploring the possibility of medicinal herb harvesting and sales. Together, we took some first steps in exploring the production of value added herbal products, in addition to selling unprocessed herbs, ‘Dayak Onion’ along with other herbs such as red ginger and ‘Tongkat Ali’, which is unique to the area. We are working on possible commercialisation in 2018, which will include support and guidance from the local government notably from relevant agencies such as micro-business agency to establish a formal commercial entity (cooperatives) and Health Agency to help with the distribution permit.
In addition to livelihoods, we also have worked to find a solution to relatively high maternal and infant mortality, which is linked to the remoteness of the area and the lack of access to health care. We therefore supported the development of a ‘health cadre’; local women trained in basic midwifery skills along with supplying relevant equipment. There are now some dozen trained women, available to assist in both birth and antenatal care.
We want to build on all this experience over the coming two to four years and are liaising with health, transport and educational agencies to more effectively leverage the benefits of our presence and the industry we bring to the region, including electricity generation. We will discuss the results of these efforts over the coming years.