ExxonMobil Social Responsability Program in Guyana questionable – Int'l oil expert
By Abena Rockcliffe- Campbell
Petroleumworld 03 06 2018
No one expected Guyana, a newbie to the oil industry, to get it all right in the beginning. However, international onlookers thought, at least, the country would have been able to secure certain fundamentals.
It was expected that the country would have gathered information about the international norms in certain areas. That is why an international oil and gas expert is calling it “foolish” that Guyana has allowed ExxonMobil to commit to “cheap” Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). The expert said that Guyana grabbed “low-hanging fruits.”
The term low-hanging fruit is a commonly used metaphor for doing the simplest or easiest work first or for a quick fix.
This metaphor, which can be understood easily by Guyanese, as they are quite familiar with their agriculture. Guyanese know that while low-hanging fruits are easily accessible, they are often times not the juiciest. Fruits higher up the tree that have more contact with the sun are more delectable.
This metaphor easily brings across the point of the oil expert who said that while the CSR offered by ExxonMobil may be able to effect change in certain areas there are other commitments that would have bode better for the developmental needs of Guyana.
Speaking on the grounds of anonymity, the expert said that the metaphoric fruits Guyana accepted were hanging so low that a very young child could have picked them. He said that Guyana could have pointed ExxonMobil in many other more meaningful directions.
The expert was quick to point out that it is understood that the developmental needs of countries may vary. He said, for instances, that the needs of Nigeria is very different from the needs of Azerbaijan “so the CSR projects in these countries may be different.
However, the end game is development. Countries want to address the most pressing issues. Guyana is in need of infrastructure; especially now. With the country being on the brink of a huge oil and gas industry, Guyana will do well to establish more hospitals, etc.”
The Production Sharing Contract (PSC) that Guyana signed with ExxonMobil states, “The Minister and the contractor shall establish a programme of a financial support for environmental and social projects to be funded by the contractor. The contractor shall directly fund the amount of (US$300,000.00) per year with any funded but unspent portion of this amount to be carried over into the ensuing calendar years of the Agreement. The Minister and contractor shall meet annually to agree which projects shall be funded in any year.”
Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael, Trotman had told this newspaper that ExxonMobil has agreed to look at four primary areas–land reformation, establishing green spaces, youth membership schemes, and a youth innovation fund. The US$300,000 will go to these purposes.
This is the case while ExxonMobil commits to more meaningful CSRs around the world.
The challenge for CSR in developing countries is framed by a vision that was distilled in 2000 into the Millennium Development Goals—“a world with less poverty, hunger and disease, greater survival prospects for mothers and their infants, better educated children, equal opportunities for women, and a healthier environment.”
In some countries, CSR is used as a road map to development; a reality that is lacking in Guyana. In France, the government has strict CSR policies, which are aligned with international developmental goals. Companies are so guided as to where help in that nation is most needed.
A research paper done by Professor Jedrzej George Frynas of Middlesex University Business School of London stated that oil companies are now making significant contributions towards community development schemes such as hospitals, schools and micro-credit schemes.
Global spending by oil, gas and mining companies on community development programmes, was estimated at over US$500 million per year in 2001, but the figure is certainly very much higher today.
The four oil majors – Shell, ExxonMobil, BP and Chevron – spent almost US$500 million among themselves in 2006 alone.
ExxonMobil spent US$79 million on local communities in the United States in 2006 (57% of the company's social investment budget for that year).
While ExxonMobil has committed to an annual US$300,000 in Guyana, the company has obviously done much better around the world.
According to ExxonMobil website, during 2016, the company was voted best CSR Company in Nigeria.
The Company also received the awards for Best Company in Poverty Reduction and Best Company in Infrastructure Development.
ExxonMobil received the Best Overall Company of The Year award for making the most significant contributions to the socioeconomic development of Nigeria in 2015, through its extensive CSR projects in the areas of education, health, economic empowerment and local capacity development.
The company also received the Best Company in Infrastructure Development award.
While accepting the award, Managing Director and Lead Country Manager of ExxonMobil affiliates in Nigeria, Nolan O'Neal said, “We are committed to the development of Nigeria and its people – Every year, we invest several million dollars on projects primarily in the areas of Health, Education, skill-set improvement and capacity development.”
The same article noted that through its academic support and scholarship programmes, ExxonMobil has invested over N8B (US$22M) in Nigeria's educational system at all levels (primary, secondary and tertiary) since 2008. It has also contributed over N19B (US$52.8M) to the fight against malaria.
Read full at http://corporate.exxonmobil.com/en/company/worldwide-operations/locations/nigeria/news-releases/exxonmobil-named-best-overall-company-in-csr .
Also, in one of the many donations ExxonMobil made to a US organization named, the United Way, ExxonMobil handed over a cheque for over US$10M. Yet it gave US$300,000 to an entire country.
Story from Kaieter News
Kaieteurnewsonline.com 03 04 2018
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