Societal Impact Assessment (SIA) refers to a set of guidelines and principles to identify the societal effects of new technologies, programs, and projects. Starting in the domain of environmental issues, SIA has expanded into other areas where new technologies start to shape the everyday life of citizens.
World Economic Forum: Measuring Societal Impact
Social Impact Assessments can be developed at any stage in a project to propose measures to mitigate potential adverse social impacts and enhance positive social impacts. This paper describes guidance developed on how to make the best use of SIAs in oil and gas projects.
What is Social Impact Assessment?
The Oil and Gas Industry has been aware of these and other impacts for many years and has been developing methods for managing social impacts. In 1997, the International Association of Oil and Gas Producers (OGP) published a report entitled "Principles for Impact Assessment: The Environmental and Social Dimension??1. This report set out principles for the environmental and social dimension of impact assessment for oil and gas exploration and production projects. It was intended for oil and gas companies and their contractors, and highlights the importance of social and environmental assessment in all aspects of project planning and implementation. The document was subsequently endorsed by the International Petroleum Industry Environmental Conservation Association (IPIECA).
The concept is a stepping-stone to a more comprehensive guidance document for industry practitioners. In 2002, OGP and IPIECA took the next step and developed ‘Lists of Questions' that may need to be asked and answered in considering the social dimension of oil and gas projects. These questions give an extensive insight into the range and diversity of the potential social impacts that an oil and gas project may need to manage. However, these lists of questions were not intended as check lists or as detailed guidance for conducting social impact assessment.
Social Impacts of Oil and Gas Companies & Projects
Potential social impacts of an oil and gas project can be both positive and negative. Adverse impacts such as resource use and the movement of people are often well publicized. However these are often balanced by positive impacts such as the promotion of employment, socio-economic development and improvements in infrastructure.
SIA is a tool utilized in the oil gas industry to manage social impacts, enhancing positive impacts and avoiding or mitigating adverse ones. SIA provides companies an effective risk management tool and communities the opportunity to give input on a project.