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Oil Companies and the New Petroleum Provinces: Ethics, Business and Politics

The globalisation process together with the emergence of new media and communication systems increase the focus on corporate social responsibility in new regions. It is natural that the oil companies are in focus in a petroleum country like Norway. Through their internationalisation over the last years, the oil companies are increasingly exposed to expectations as well as criticism related to developments in the countries in which are engaged. A large share of the new, commercially interesting petroleum resources, which are attracting the large oil companies, are located in conflict-ridden countries with unstable and undemocratic governments. At the same time there is increasing uncertainty and concern over how new revenues will influence such regimes. The experiences from many new petroleum provinces indicate that rapid increase in oil revenues can lead to a negative social development - the so-called ‘paradox of plenty’. The core of this research project is the oil companies’ response to this challenge. Answers will be sought to two main questions:
   Which norms are established or are under establishment concerning the oil companies’ attitude to social development in ‘new’ petroleum states?
   How can the oil industry organise itself to prevent a negative development and contribute to a positive development, without being accused of untimely interference?

FNI project leader: Arild Moe

Project period: 2001-2003


Gulbrandsen, Lars H. and Arild Moe, 'BP in Azerbaijan: A Test Case of the Potential and Limits of the CSR Agenda?'. Third World Quarterly, Vol 28, No 4, 2007, pp. 813-830.

Gulbrandsen, Lars H. and Arild Moe, 'Oil Company CSR Collaboration in 'New' Petro-states'. Journal of Corporate Citizenship, No 20, 2005, pp. 53-64.

Skjærseth, Jon Birger, Kristian Tangen, Philip Swanson, Atle Christer Christiansen, Arild Moe and Leiv Lunde, Limits to Corporate Social Responsibility: A Comparative Study of Four Major Oil Companies. FNI report 7/2004. Lysaker, FNI, 2004, 26 p.

Skjærseth, Jon Birger, ExxonMobil: Tiger or Turtle on Social Responsibility? FNI Report 7/2003. Lysaker, FNI, 2003, 24 p.

Tangen, Kristian: Shell: Struggling to Build a Better World? FNI Report 1/2003. Lysaker, FNI, 2003, 15 p.

Christiansen, Atle Christer, Beyond Petroleum: Can BP deliver? FNI Report 6/2002. Lysaker, FNI, 40 p.
 Related focal points of research:

   Global environmental governance and sustainable development

Project funding:

   The Research Council of Norway (PETROPOL Programme)

 External cooperation partners:

   University of Maryland

Recent relevant FNI News:

   BP Addresses Macro-level CSR Challenges in Azerbaijan (20.06.07)

Recent media coverage:

'- Mennskerettigheter er ikke vårt mandat' ('StatoilHydro in Azerbaijan: - Human Rights are not Part of Our Mandate'), Dagens Næringsliv, 4 December 2007. In Norwegian.

Fridtjof Nansen Institute
P.O. Box 326, 1326 Lysaker, Norway. Tel: (+47) 67111900 / E-mail: post (