Marathon Oil commissioned Plexus to provide technical support in the preparation of an ESIA for an onshore oil exploration drilling programme in Kurdistan. The project was carried out over a period of nine months and included technical support to Marathon Oil’s in-country team and local consultants. The objective was to assist Marathon’s in-country consultants to prepare a ESIA that met Marathon’s standards and assisted in building local capacity toward meeting international standards.
We brought skills in the area of ESIA scoping, social baseline design, stakeholder consultation and the application of international social performance standards.
Plexus carried out an analysis of existing project documentation, including the draft ESIA and provided initial feedback on the scope and content of the ESIA. Following a visit to Marathon’s exploration block in Eastern Kurdistan, we held meetings with Marathon and the in-country ESIA contractor in Erbil and conducted a ESIA and consultation planning workshop. We also reviewed the scope of the planned ESIA and prepared terms of reference for the ESIA and the social baseline and prepared guidance on HIA and the Social Impact Management Plan.
In addition, Plexus provided on-going support, mentoring and review of the ESIA process and advised on the project’s stakeholder engagement approach. This included a series of guidance notes and working papers to provide direct practical assistance to the local contractor with capacity building in the areas of international standards in ESIA and stakeholder engagement. Following submission of the draft ESIA, Plexus provided detailed comments on the scope and content of the document and provided on-going technical support to the ESIA team.
The project provided the basis for a more formal and complete ESIA for Marathon’s drilling programme. It demonstrated that in areas where the skills of government and consultants are still emerging, capacity building and awareness raising regarding international expectations and current best practice in ESIA design, scoping and stakeholder engagement are required. One of the key lessons was that this is a process that needs on-going support and commitment by senior management, as part of a company’s commitment to social performance, social investment and corporate responsibility.