4 young children pose on some steps

Community engagement

The people who may be impacted by our operations represent one of our most important stakeholder groups, and we are keen to give them the opportunity to have their say about our activities.

We engage with local communities on issues including employment, community development, safeguarding the environment and livelihoods; using methods such as consultation meetings as part of Environmental and Social Impact Assessments (ESIAs), media briefings and public meetings.

In Senegal, formal discussions were held with the regulators, National Technical Committee members and regional and district authorities to discuss the performance of the 2014 activities and the proposed 2015 activities. Local council representation at each meeting was around 80%. Discussions centred on the potential impacts on fishing activities, an important local industry.

For both government and national authorities, institutional capacity building with regard to the oil and gas industry is considered an important issue. To address this, we have continued to deliver oil and gas awareness courses, and emergency response training during 2015.

Grievance process

We understand that meetings are not always the easiest or most appropriate way for people to comment on our activity and that we cannot predict all potential issues through our Social Impact Assessments (SIA).

Local residents who have concerns about our activities are also encouraged to contact our local representatives or email us directly. We publicise these channels through our website and our country information brochures.

In Senegal, we also publicised the grievance mechanism through posters at our office and shore base in Dakar.

In 2015, we had a single grievance from a local fisherman regarding loss of nets during our seismic activity. This was addressed in line with the grievance process by local staff.

For further details about materiality at Cairn, and the issues that affect our stakeholders, please see Materiality and Stakeholder engagement.

Case study: Stakeholder participation in the review of the ESIA Senegal

As part of our application to carry out exploration and appraisal drilling offshore Senegal, we undertook a review of the ESIA submitted for the 2014 exploration drilling programme. The aim was to identify the impacts of planned changes in Senegal including rig, vessels, aviation and overall approach. This included assessing and mitigating risks arising from project changes in the following areas:

  • environmental and social impacts of operational equipment, locations and increased local environmental and social knowledge;
  • emergency and oil spill preparedness, changes in terms of operational approach and increased knowledge of oil characteristics;
  • changes to critical safety elements associated with the rig, vessels and aviation; and
  • an assessment of environmental impacts for the proposed 3D seismic campaign offshore Senegal, including implications for the fishing community including local artisan fishermen.

The impact of changes in the drilling programme from 2015 were submitted as an addendum to the original drilling programme ESIA, submitted to the regulatory authorities and originally approved in 2014. The development and submittal of the addendum was a voluntary initiative by Cairn and involved formal discussions with the regulators, review by a reconvened National Technical Committee and a programme of consultations with regional authorities and interested groups.

The programme of consultations was designed in coordination with the Senegalese authorities, covering six locations outside Dakar (in Fatick, Bassoul, Foundiougne, Toubacouta, Djirnda and Dionewar). The meetings aimed to keep communities informed of the results of the 2014 programme and development of the project in 2015 and the potential impacts of its activities, and highlight any changes from the previous year. Around 80% of the local council representatives attended each meeting.


A key issue raised was the potential impact on fishing. The fishing sector in Senegal is vital both socially and economically, providing a major food source, jobs and a significant percentage of the country’s exports by value. Responding to this stakeholder concern, we were able to present mitigation measures for noise, vibration and vessel movement, and share study findings showing that drilling activities have a low impact on marine fauna. We also addressed concerns about oil spills resulting from our activities by talking through our Oil Spill Prevention and Contingency Plan. In 2015, we were invited to support a jointly sponsored International Maritime Organisation (IMO)/Global Initiative West & Central Africa (GI-WACAF) national workshop on the development of the national policy for the use of dispersants, held in Senegal. Cairn contributed by running an interactive case study scenario session to examine the most suitable treatments and the implications of using dispersants, and participated in a desk-based scenario simulation.

“In response to requests from the authorities in Senegal we have provided a variety of opportunities for capacity building in the offshore oil and gas industry in a country where the industry has little previous experience.”

Julia AdamsonCorporate Responsibility Advisor

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