Director, Government and Public Affairs
Cheniere Energy, Inc.
10:20 - 10:45
Thursday, 19 September 2019
S2.7 RESERVE: Two Tailored Approaches to Gaining the Social License to Operate
In 2016, Cheniere’s Sabine Pass Liquefaction (SPL) facility shipped the first cargo from the first large-scale LNG export facility in the contiguous United States. In 2018, Cheniere’s Corpus Christi Liquefaction (CCL) shipped the first cargo from North America’s first greenfield LNG export facility constructed in nearly 50 years. As firsts of their kind in the U.S., they have provided numerous insights and lessons learned regarding social license to operate and managing social risks at the local level for LNG export projects in the U.S. today.
One important distinction between the projects is the fact that the SPL project was a brownfield project whereas CCL was a greenfield effort. Sabine Pass is located in rural southwest Louisiana, where the nearest neighbors are alligators and waterfowl. The project faced hurdles involving the relatively isolated location with limited housing and infrastructure. Social risks included local content, water infrastructure, access to health care and storm recovery and resiliency.
In contrast, the Corpus Christi metropolitan statistical area has a population of approximately 442,000 and there are over 4,000 residences and businesses within a 3 mile radius of the facility. Challenges came in the form of increased industrial development of a densely populated region and impacts to nearby residents. Risks included visual and audible impacts to neighborhoods, local traffic mitigation and industrial water consumption.
The challenge was building and strengthening successful social risk management programs in vastly different locations in order to earn and protect social licenses to operate for two groundbreaking projects being developed within a short timeframe of each other – even simultaneously the past several years.
For all of the similarities the company’s two flagship projects possess, in many ways their unique locations, challenges and political landscapes which could not have been more different as it relates to stakeholder engagement and social risk management.
Each project required a tailored approach to stakeholder engagement, local content and local CSR efforts. Some successful initiatives in Louisiana failed to translate to communities in South Texas. While many elements and principles are transferrable, there is no one-size-fits-all approach when engaging with different communities in different regions.
The tactics for accomplishing the common goals sometimes varied greatly at each location due to mitigating different social risks. The outreach and engagement surrounding commissioning activities at CCL required a different form of information and education campaign from SPL. The same was true of other CSR efforts and partnerships regarding local content, workforce development programs, environmental stewardship and charitable contributions.
SPL and CCL are each highly regarded in their communities. Those social licenses have been acquired, protected and need to be preserved through an individual approach to each situation and its stakeholders, and continue to be dynamic programs based on lessons learned and insights gained through experience.
These facilities each represent historic milestones for the U.S. LNG industry, and their development has taught us a great deal about the importance of managing stakeholder engagement, social risk and corporate social responsibility at the local level.