Energy issues are complex, so it is not surprising that our stakeholders have questions and uniquely evolving expectations. ConocoPhillips aims to be a responsible corporate citizen by understanding our neighbors’ needs, values and interests so we can address them in our internal decision-making and project-execution processes. We work closely with stakeholders to promote understanding of our operations, minimize disruptions and engage and contribute in a positive way to the communities where we operate. Through effective engagement, sustainable relationships of mutual respect can be established.
Stakeholder engagement has been part of our history since the beginning of the 20th century when Phillips Petroleum Co. drilled hundreds of wells on Osage tribal lands, building the company’s foundation while making millions of dollars for tribe members through royalty income. Founder Frank Phillips was a well-known fixture at the lease sales, and he built his wealth and success with this Osage connection. Mr. Phillips and Chief Lookout maintained a strong mutual admiration and respect and considered each other friends and allies. The close relationship and cooperation between the Phillips family and the Osage Tribe began in these early days of wildcatting in Osage County, OK and endured many years as a profitable venture for both sides.
E.W. Marland, the founder and CEO of one of our heritage companies, Marland Oil Company, cared very much for his employees and maintained a great relationship with them. Marland created an atmosphere of opportunity, loyalty and comfortable living at the Marland Oil Company. He was “E.W.” to all employees, not “the boss”.
When the Marland Oil Refinery was built in 1918 in Ponca City, it was considered one of the most outstanding economic achievements in the Oklahoma oil industry. The labor requirements at the refinery caused the population of Ponca City to triple in only a few months.
Today, the company’s SPIRIT Values — Safety, People, Integrity, Responsibility, Innovation and Teamwork — set the tone for how the company conducts its business. These SPIRIT values are embedded in our stakeholder engagement approach.
Principles for stakeholder engagement include:
- Proactively identify and seek out key stakeholders early in the business endeavor.
- Include these key stakeholders in the design and implementation of the engagement process.
- Listen in order to understand stakeholders’ interests, concerns and culture.
- Communicate openly.
- Seek solutions that create mutually beneficial business and engagement approaches that also build long-term value for both the company and our stakeholders.
- Follow through on our commitments and stand accountable for the results, both internally and externally.
Through collaboration, we respect the rights and traditional values, heritage and culture in the local communities. This is inherit in the way we operate and the way we build our legacy.
In the San Juan asset, as in all of the company’s operations around the world, ConocoPhillips works diligently to build respectful, authentic and inclusive relationships with local communities and organizations.
Frank Santiago leads the Stakeholder Relations team in San Juan. The team is focused specifically on building relationships and actively listening to communities and local officials in New Mexico in order to proactively address com-munity issues.
“From a resource perspective, we recognized it was impossible for the Stakeholder Relations team to have a presence at all the events,” Santiago said. “The team decided to develop the Ambassador Program to equip and empower employees to help tell our story and develop knowledgeable advocates to correct misinformation.”
In its fifth year, the program recruits volunteers annually to participate in the eight-week program, which consists of the following courses:
- STAKEHOLDER ENGAGEMENT — Highlights information about ConocoPhillips’ mission statement, SPIRIT Values, vision and history.
- A GLOBAL VIEW OF CONOCOPHILLIPS — Focuses on the company’s core business and operations around the globe.
- A STATE AND LOCAL VIEW OF CONOCOPHILLIPS — Explains company impact across New Mexico and in local communities.
- ENGAGING AS AMBASSADORS — Offers practical examples of how to engage and communicate with stakeholders.
“While the Ambassador Program contributes to our goal of being recognized as a good neighbor, it also impacts the business unit’s bottom line,” Santiago said.
In 2013, one county in New Mexico with more than 1,200 ConocoPhillips wells considered enacting ordinances that would prevent the company from continuing to do business there. Field Superintendent Mike Martinez, an Ambassador Program graduate and a native of Rio Arriba County, is highly respected by area residents. Martinez was able to open new lines of communication by presenting his personal story and explaining the company’s operating practices to county commissioners. The commissioners appreciated his expertise as a local hydraulic fracturing expert, listened to the facts and decided that the current oil and gas ordinance was sufficient, thus paving the way for the company’s continued operations in the county.
This approach is consistent with the company’s commitment to listen, communicate openly and seek solutions that create mutually beneficial business and engagement approaches and build long-term value for both ConocoPhillips and its stakeholders.
The liquids-rich Eagle Ford shale play represents the company’s most prolific unconventional development. In 2009, the company began exploring the development potential of this play and at year-end 2014 held approximately 220,000 net leasehold and mineral acres, primarily in the DeWitt, Karnes and Live Oak counties. The Eagle Ford team makes it a priority to listen and seek community input in the following ways:
- Citizens Advisory Committee – The Eagle Ford Citizens Advisory Committee is made up of community leaders from DeWitt, Karnes, Live Oak, and Bee counties and meets every other month to discuss hot topics and industry matters. It’s an open dialogue forum that is based upon trust, respect and collaboration.
- Eagle Ford Leadership Roundtables – ConocoPhillips hosts roundtable discussions with the appointed/elected officials in our operating counties to help inform our community leaders about current operations and community projects, while also listening to the concerns and suggestions of the community leadership. These are hosted annually with each of our operating counties.
- Community Polling – In 2013, to better understand the community needs and interests, a short survey was conducted by ConocoPhillips. Identified issues were then prioritized through our operations, education and engagement. As we work to build long term relationships with the Eagle Ford community, this valuable information will direct our efforts.
- Eagle Ford Landing newsletter – This publication was started as a result of the community feedback. The newsletter, distributed in the spring and fall, shares information about the oil and gas industry, as well as key projects in the community with ConocoPhillips landowners.
- Landowner Meet and Greets – These luncheons are hosted for our landowners and allow them the opportunity to ask questions face-to-face with their Landman, Surface Representative and/or Royalty Payment Representative. These events have been held for the last four years and continue to be the building block of consistent, open communication with our primary stakeholders.
In the Niobrara, our approach to stakeholder relations is to maintain dialogue and community Involvement. We continue to share knowledge through asset tours and engage with the business community. To date we have:
- Sponsored more than 75 front-range community events since 2014
- Conducted 14 Open Houses focused on sharing information about safety, wellbore construction, well pad construction, hydraulic fracturing and regulatory requirements
- Participated in 14 Colorado Chamber Organizations/Trade Associations
- Participated in Local Energy Organizations-led grassroots education efforts
- Contributed $8.9 million to Colorado universities from 2009 to 2014
Ultimately, effective stakeholder engagement seeks key stakeholders early in the entry process and maintains effective two-way communications that encourages input throughout the operational process. We hold ourselves accountable for commitments and results in order to build trustworthy and sustainable relationships with all stakeholders.