Raising the bar with stakeholder engagement
For the 35,000 residents of Gladstone, Australia, the effect of creating three massive LNG plants on Curtis Island has been transformative to their local economy. More than $1 billion in local wages have been paid, $697 million in purchase orders and contracts spent, and 20,000 contracts awarded since construction started. In addition, more than 5,000 local employees work at the projects, and 400 adult apprentices were trained and hired.
“By making sustainability part of the project handover to the customers and communities, we knew where we wanted to be and how to get there. — Melissa Case, Manager of Community Relations, Curtis Island LNG projects, Bechtel
As with all projects, strong relationships with the community and regulatory authorities are critical. We are delivering a community and natural environment that will support our customer for decades. Bechtel’s ties with the Gladstone region span some 30 years─an enduring legacy we want to continue.
In Gladstone, the common practice of dialogue, grievance procedures, and informed consultation was important but insufficient, given the unprecedented size, scale, and complexity of the projects.
We knew it required a more focused approach that kept stakeholder engagement central to project execution. The result: We created a Centralized Services Organization (CSO) with stakeholder engagement as its organizing principle and a goal of ensuring a positive sustainable hand over of the projects to the customers and communities.
Among its efforts, the CSO unifies stakeholder engagement for all three projects into one standard process and set of performance indicators for more efficiency and greater consistency. It also serves as the primary interface with key external stakeholders to streamline communication and eliminate confusion and misunderstanding.
Some of the most effective CSO programs include the ongoing guided cruise tours of the projects for the residents of Gladstone, along with community encounters that allow residents to experience the work, camp food, and accommodations. The CSO formed a standing committee in Gladstone consisting of local police, industry, customers, community leaders, and small businesses to address concerns regarding health and safety issues and the influx of workers to the area. It also launched and maintained a social media presence to keep communities, employees, and their families connected and engaged day to day.
Finally, the CSO instituted a workforce integration investment plan to support local charities and organizations. Workers are empowered to engage communities, assess priority issues to address, and use a participatory process to allocate technical and financial resources where needed.
The results are encouraging. Based on Bechtel-conducted surveys of 45 community leaders (with an annual response rate of 95 percent), community perceptions of Bechtel and the projects have improved since the CSO became operational in 2012. By giving the community an opportunity to experience the projects firsthand, and by addressing concerns quickly and consistently, we have helped foster a deeper appreciation of the projects and their social, environmental, and economic benefits. This effort is leading to a positive, more sustainable handover of the LNG projects to our customer and communities.