4 Mar, 2019

Managing Non-Technical Risks Case Study: Ghana

It’s always interesting traveling around the world and seeing real-life examples of how non-technical risks affect our industry. Throughout my career, I have had the opportunity to prepare personnel for the volatile, ambiguous and complex world we work and live in.

Last week, I was in Ghana investigating the level of community engagement with oil and gas companies and governmental decision-makers in the petroleum business. Interviewing over 20 stakeholders including the ministry of finance economist, a district manager in an affected community, some private sector representatives, NGO leaders and community members, I got a good picture of the playing field.

The “queen mother” of a village of 1500 people explained to me how two local companies had chosen their village to construct a petroleum waste treatment plant. She was excited about what it would bring the village in terms of support for their infrastructure and healthcare system as the company had promised to pave the dirt roads and build a clinic. However, she revealed that the only paved section of road was the part closest to the treatment plant, not the part that passed through the village! The villagers were suffering from the dust and noise from the heavy trucks driving to and from the harbor to the plant.

She had several talks with the local district assembly member of the local government in charge of infrastructure and had even made the trip to the capital to express the worries of the community to the national ministry. Now she was at the point where she did not care what the implications for the promised clinic were as long as the road-issue was not solved. She and the villagers had agreed on a deadline for which they would start blocking the access road to the waste treatment plant. It was time to flex her muscles.

For many in the oil and gas industry, this story is a well-known example of how non-technical risks can interrupt operations or lead to project delays and budget overruns. Whilst each situation may be unique, proven, practical management tools and methodologies are available to build and maintain good stakeholder relationships. At our Managing Non-Technical Risks course we train technical, commercial and non-technical oil and gas employees to deal with communities, NGOs, governmental push-back and society at large. If you are interested, I recommend enrolling in the upcoming session in Dubai beginning April 14, 2019.

Written by: Dr. Katinka C. van Cranenburgh

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