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Caring for Country

The initiative began in Australia in 2006 with work on the area around the Blacktip field, to improve Aboriginal land.

Protecting heritage with the Thamarrurr Rangers

Blacktip is a gas field in the Australian offshore basin Bonaparte, where we own 100% of the production licence WA-33-L. Since 2006 it has been part of the "Caring for Country" project. And "Caring for Country" is exactly what we mean to do with this diversified project, set up by statutory body the Northern Land Council (NLC), which preserves local culture and manages the natural environment. The plants at Blacktip, are connected by pipelines to an onshore gas treated, the Yelcherr Gas Plant (YGP), within the Aboriginal territory governed by the NLC. To get to and use the land, and start the Blacktip project, we negotiated a contract for occupying the land over the long term, which protects the rights and cultural heritage of the Aborigines. 

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is an action programme signed in September 2015 by 193 UN member states. It includes 17 goals for socio-economic development of communities and local areas. In line with goals 3, 7, 12, 14 and 15, we want to ensure access to health care for the Aborigines in the Northern Territory (Goal 3), produce clean, accessible energy for the community of Wadeye (Goal 7), but also protect local underwater biodiversity (Goal 14).

Turtle Management Plan

In 2016 we removed the module offload facility (MOF) on the beach at Yelcherr during the construction phase of the Blacktip project, to allow us to bring in prefabricated modules, material, goods and other equipment for the YGP. Loggerhead turtles make their nests on the beach in Yelcherr, and thanks to our Turtle Management Plan we have restored the beach to its original appearance. 

Safety first

For us, workplace safety is a fundamental principle that we share with employees, contract workers and local communities. That is why we implement all the necessary measures to avoid accidents, including organisational models to assess and manage risks, training programmes, skills development and the promotion of a culture of safety.

How we take on challenges

The operation to remove the MOF called for innovative methods to reduce risks and ensure the lack of any damage to people or the environment. We have also used a special decommissioning strategy that does not harm nesting turtles. With the help of the forest rangers, we have monitored the turtles' behaviour to ensure demolishing the MOF will not cause any problems for the animals. Thanks to security problems and seasonal limitations, dismantling the facility took place in the dry season and only in the daytime. From the very moment in the dry season when the flatback turtles began nesting, our work was organised so as to avoid casting light at night time and affecting nesting and hatching. Once the MOF was removed, we recreated the sand dunes and carried out drainage and revegetatation of the area.

Impact on the environment and community

Environmental monitoring is managed full-time by a local Aboriginal group, the Thamarrurr Rangers, who represent more than 20 clans. These forest rangers, who are mostly descendants of the original inhabitants of the Thamarrurr region, patrol more than 17,900 km² of land and around 200 km of coastline, and do a range of work, including coastguard, pest control, monitoring wild animals, protecting cultural assets, education and managing the Marri-Jabin Indigenous Protected Area (IPA). In 2019, with the staff of the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS), we did a participatory workshop on mapping the marine habitat, in which the land's traditional owners and Aboriginal rangers were involved. Their contribution let us improve the map's precision.

Among our initiatives to help the local people, we have provided high-tech equipment to the “North Australian Centre for Oil and Gas”, a laboratory at Charles Darwin University. They will use it for education and research. We have also provided Aboriginal women with preventive health care programmes, particularly for breast cancer. 

We also helped improve health and cohesion in the community of Wadeye, through a sustainable Australian football programme, by buying and installing a new site and lighting plants for Brown’s Mart Theatre in the city of Darwin, and through the Eni Schoolnet Project.

Finally, in 2006 we signed an agreement with the Northern Territory Power and Water Corporation to sell gas for domestic use in the Australian territory. In late 2015 the community of Wadeye saw their old diesel power station replaced with a gas one, to provide cleaner, cheaper electricity to one of the biggest communities in the area. The new station powers the taps for the gas pipeline from the Blacktip gas field and provides access to energy for the village's population of more than 3,000 people. It has the capacity to supply over 1,600 house and businesses. 

The value of experience

We have built solid relationships within the indigenous community and the whole region of Thamarrurr, where the YGP is located. We talked with the local Aboriginal community right from the planning and construction phases of the project, all the way up to the operative phase, which allowed us to understand their profound sense of belonging to their land. The Aboriginal people havee a very special relationship with their land; it is not an asset to be bought and sold. We are committed to establishing with them a relationship of trust, showing the utmost respect for their culture. 

Partnerships

We continue to support the “Caring for Country” project, working in partnership and collaboration with various governmental and non-governmental organisations, including the Australian government, the Northern Land Council and Aboriginal organisations like Thamarrurr Development Corporation (TDC)

To carry out our Turtle Management Plan, we worked with the Australian Department of the Environment and Energy and the monitoring and assurance team from the Environmental Standards Division. The techniques for protecting the area were supported and developed by Australian government, and have been integrated into the management plans of operators in the natural resources sector. 

To understand the importance of the relationship between Aboriginal communities and their land, the statutory Indigenous Advisory Committee was set up. It supports work done under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity (EPBC) Act of 1999.