Equitable Origin Chief Executive Officer Stephen Newton touted the virtues of transparent and good-faith engagement with communities as part of responsible oil and gas development at the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) technical conference in Amsterdam on Wednesday.
Speaking on the panel titled People, Profit, Planet: Advancing Practices That Balance Economic Growth, Social Development, and Environmental Protection Today and in the Future, Newton shared insights gained from his time at the helm at the oil and gas industry's only independent social and environmental standards body, as well as his extensive experience in the industry prior to joining EO. His remarks focused on "above ground risks," which refer potential social and environmental conflicts (as opposed to technical and operational risks that tend to be centered underground) that can slow down or halt exploration and production operations. Newton emphasized the shared value that can be drawn from industry's complete and transparent engagement with local communities in the early stages of a development project: clear expectations and and economic benefits for communities and reduced risk of slowdowns and stoppages for companies.
Newton noted that the type of third-party standard-setting and certification services offered by EO can be the most effective framework within which industry can engage with local stakeholders: “Being open to third-party certification as a way to independently verify best operating practices and gain the trust of all stakeholders is critical for future success,” he said.