Unconventional shale gas development has been the subject of tremendous scrutiny by many stakeholders, including the general public and regulators. This scrutiny has had an impact on Talisman – and the industry as a whole – in terms of our "social licence to operate”.
In early 2011, Talisman made the decision to become a sector leader in shale development. This included developing a suite of Shale Operating Principles for its global shale operations.
In developing the Shale Operating Principles, Talisman reviewed the US Subcommittee to the Energy Advisory Board of the Department of Energy (SEAB) 90 and 180-Day Reports, which made specific recommendations to improve the safety of shale gas development and provided context on public concerns. The company also adopted the SEAB recommendation to set performance metrics to measure progress in achieving the intent of these Principles and to drive continuous improvement in the conduct of its shale business. Finally, it invited numerous external stakeholder organizations to review and comment on the draft Principles.
Once the Principles were finalized, Talisman embarked on a communication and roll-out process beginning with its employees and contractors and followed by a public-awareness campaign. The feedback was positive and Talisman is now strengthening its operational and monitoring processes to ensure that it lives up to the Principles in its shale operations.
The key learning is that transparency and disclosure about sustainability performance is just as important as the performance itself, especially in regard of concerns by local communities, regulators and other stakeholders.