In a world where perception is reality it is crucial for oil & gas companies to maintain transparent and constructive relationships with their stakeholders. To ensure business continuity companies must build strategies that are centered on respect, listening, dialogue and stakeholder involvement. This has come to be known as establishing a "social license to operate." With this in mind, and with the help of the Altermondo consultancy, Total developed the SRM+ tool in 2006. This is a methodology by which an entity (a project group, a subsidiary) compares its internal vision of the societal context in which it operates with the perception of its external stakeholders and builds action plans aimed at bridging the gaps between them. In 2011 the lchthys LNG Project in Australia, a Joint Venture between INPEX (operator) and Total, applied the SRM+ tool. A total of 35 external stakeholder groups were interviewed, from the Northern Territory, Western Australia and the Australian Capital Territory. Although most stakeholders stated they were very satisfied with the quality of their relationship with INPEX and the lchthys Project, several valuable suggestions were made on how to improve the dialogue and strengthen relationships. The SRM+ process provided valuable insights that are difficult to glean from routine interaction with stakeholders. It also gave confidence to the Project managers that they understand the issues, concerns and expectations of key stakeholders and that external risks are being appropriately managed. Following the SRM+ engagement, several Project managers made adjustments to their strategies. Possibly the most important outcome of SRM+ was that it has created the foundation for the lchthys Project's long-term approach to stakeholder engagement. Going forward, INPEX plans to build on the SRM+ process by developing and deploying a stakeholder relationship management software package for the lchthys Project that will enable the organization to identify, manage and respond to issues of importance to its stakeholders. Doing so will ensure that the lchthys Project is able to maintain its social license to operate. Copyright 2012, SPE/APPEA International Conference on Health, Safety, and Environment in Oil and Gas Exploration and Production.
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