Shale Gas – Engaging with Stakeholders
Whilst the oil and gas industry is exceptionally good at devising improved exploration and production methods, it appears it is not yet as successful in overcoming a very negative perception in the eyes of the general public. Hydraulic fracturing and the whole shale gas debate here in the UK have only served to entrench this perception, despite the undoubted financial benefits of exploiting this new energy resource. The industry is obviously failing in its attempts to win the hearts and minds of the British people. There is little evidence of resource nationalism in the UK, and there is an incentivised business environment created by the Government. The only barrier appears to be social acceptance of shale gas extraction and fracking that stops the British people from seeing the economic benefits that can come from this energy resource. The size of the prize is significant: it is thought that shale gas resources in the UK amount to some 3 to 5 trillion m3.Imagine you are a project sponsor for a shale gas play; how can you meet the challenges that exist in the minds of the people, rather than the technological issues associated with vast shale gas deposits. Write a 3,000-word essay on what communications strategy you might adopt in defusing potential protests and ensure local residents around the site of your proposed extraction development are won over to accept drilling for shale gas? This coursework therefore needs to focus on identification of potential stakeholders, their management and what practical communication methods will be required to engage with them to deliver a consensual result to allow drilling. You can draw on examples of how this has been achieved in the USA, but be aware that mineral rights ownership is completely different from that in the UK. Nevertheless, some innovative approaches and policies developed in the USA by E&P organisations are transferable across the Atlantic. Your own ideas and thoughts, robustly argued and logically supported, are more important than a prescribed “model” solution. Think about when and how communications with stakeholders could take place; whether openness and honesty is a better approach than claiming professional privilege to withhold information; and how to prevent or address potential negative outcomes associated with shale gas extraction. There is absolutely NO need to describe the technological processes of shale gas extraction or fracking.