Academic journal article Journal of Sustainable Development

Evaluating Arctic Dialogue: A Case Study of Stakeholder Relations for Sustainable Oil and Gas Development

Academic journal article Journal of Sustainable Development

Evaluating Arctic Dialogue: A Case Study of Stakeholder Relations for Sustainable Oil and Gas Development

Article excerpt

Abstract

Companies have increasingly adopted stakeholder dialogue and engagement processes to address stakeholder concerns and increase trust, mutual understanding, and to provide better processes of communication regarding their activities. To foster dialogue and increase information sharing between various stakeholders for Arctic oil and gas development, a series of dialogues have been initiated by Bodø Graduate School of Business (Norway), High North Center of Business and Governance (Norway), and public relations firm HBW Resources (USA), called Arctic Dialogue. The purpose of article is to evaluate from the perspective of communication and stakeholder theory. Furthermore the article describes key features and the role of Arctic Dialogue in shaping mutual understanding. In general the findings present an overview of perceptions and impact of the Dialogue process and suggest that Arctic Dialogue is an effective and appropriate activity to integrate stakeholders, information sharing and create mutual understanding.

Keywords: Dialogue, Stakeholder, Stakeholder engagement, Arctic, Sustainable development, Oil and gas

1. Introduction

Oil and gas (hydrocarbons) are the most important natural resources in the Arctic region and are significantly gaining attention for the future development. Arctic Seabed may hold 25% of the world's undiscovered oil and gas reserves (Borgerson, 2008). Mostly these hydrocarbon reserves are located in Russian Arctic region: Pechora Basin, Lower Ob Basin, and fields along the Siberian coast (ACIA, 2005). Chukchi Sea, United States, lying between North-western Alaska and Eastern Siberia, is estimated to hold 15 billion barrels of oil and 76 trillion cubic feet of natural gas as technically recoverable resources (Wesley, 2008). In addition, the onshore oil and gas field in Prudhoe Bay area in Alaska are the largest in North America. Moreover, there are significant reserves of natural gas and coal along the North Slope of Alaska. In Canada, oil and gas fields are concentrated mainly in two basins in the Mackenzie Delta/Beaufort Sea region and in the High Arctic, Barents Sea (ACIA, 2005). In Norway, Barent Sea production has commenced in Snøvit gas field and plans have been proposed to develop several promising regions in High North of Norway. Furthermore, Greenland and the Faroe Islands continue to explore for offshore oil and gas development and activities are also starting around Iceland (AMAP, 2007).

In recent times, both extractive companies and Arctic states have found oil and gas development highly promising. There are number of reasons behind: for example, the high prices and increasing demand of oil and gas resources in the global market, extraction becoming more feasible due to advancement in technology and facilities, and Arctic ensuring long term energy security as being a peaceful region (EIA, 2008).

However, there are various contrasting views towards developing these resources because of their anticipated impact upon ecosystem, the environment, local communities, and industries such as fishery. As a result oil and gas companies are facing significant resistance and increasing demand for providing detailed information concerning the social, economic and environmental impacts of their activities. In response there has been increase attention to stakeholder dialogue and the concept is becoming a central aspect of corporate strategy. The approach has particular focus on identification and management of stakeholder relations (Donaldson & Preston, 1995; Blair, 1998). Furthermore, it has been argued that by adopting a stakeholder approach this can result in competitive advantages in the form of trust and reputation (Rodriguez et al., 2002). Active involvement of the stakeholders in corporate planning and decision making process increases the possibility of successful business operations (Seeger, 1997; Wels & McGinn, 1998).

This article (Note) analyses the Arctic Dialogue initiated by Bodø Graduate School of Business, Norway, HBW Resources, USA and High North Center of Business and Governance, Norway, to increase information sharing and mutual understanding between various stakeholders. …

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