Thursday, January 27, 2011

Talisman recognizes free, prior and informed consent

Talisman Energy is being praised for its decision to include the principles of Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) in its new Global Community Relations Policy.

In a statement, Talisman said the new policy, which was approved by the company’s board of directors in December 2010, defines standards for engagement with communities including indigenous and tribal communities residing in the areas of its projects.

Bâtirente and the Regroupement pour la responsabilité sociale des entreprises (RRSE) were among the groups who commended Talisman for the move, noting that it follows over two years of dialogue by Bâtirente and RRSE, both shareholders of the company.

“As shareholders of Talisman, we are happy to see the company adopt a cutting-edge policy likely giving it a competitive advantage to access resources which are increasingly located in populated areas. Successful resource extraction projects depend on good community relations,” stated Daniel Simard, General Director for Bâtirente. “A process based on consent is clearly the best way to obtain and maintain the social licence to operate.”

Bâtirente and RRSE say they will now focus their engagement on the implementation of the policy, paying particular attention to Peru and Quebec where the company's activities are facing opposition from local communities.

“Although change cannot happen overnight, we believe this is a significant commitment,” states Sister Esther Champagne, president of RRSE. “We hope and expect Talisman will make a good faith effort to seek the FPIC of communities. We will be interested in how Talisman adapts its approach in order to obtain the consent of communities in Quebec where municipalities are presently forbidden to oppose mineral and gas extraction on their territory.”

The FPIC announcement is considered significant partly because of Talisman’s history – in 1998, it purchased Arakis Energy which was involved in the Sudanese oil industry during the country’s civil war. As conditions in Sudan worsened, Canadian church groups and NGOs stepped up their campaign against Talisman, urging shareholders to divest and asking the Canadian government to take action. Talisman ultimately sold its Sudan interest in 2003.

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