Social licence is an important consideration for industry, Norwegian delegate says
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Without available, factual information, misleading or incorrect statements can be accepted, Myhra said.
Similarly, withholding information and citing commercial sensitivity is a sure path to difficult public relations, he added.
Myhra pointed to the controversy around fracking and public disclosure of the chemicals used in fracking fluids as an example.
“To be honest myself, if I had companies that were putting things down in the ground that didn’t want to make public what was in the liquid they were pumping down, I would be skeptical (of) that,” he said, explaining it gives the impression of there being something to hide.
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A surge of anti-fracking initiatives in the United States has been a challenge for oil and gas producers.
In such cases — where issues are polarized into “for” and “against” — Thomas Murphy, co-director of the Marcellus Centre for Outreach and Research at Penn State University, said factual information is particularly important for public debate.
“As academics, we have a more neutral voice in the discussion,” he said, promoting a general push for greater energy literacy.
Researchers at Penn State have been tackling the fracking issue. They recently published a study conducted, Murphy said, at “complete arm’s length from industry.”
The report is available online, through the Centre for Rural Pennsylvania, a state legislative agency.
Meanwhile, when asked about reaching younger audiences with information on the oil and gas industry, Bruce Beaubouef, managing editor of Offshore magazine, suggested three recent webcasts Offshore hosted with a senior representative of BP are a good example of what can be done.
Forums such as town halls and online webinars were also recommended as pathways for information and public outreach.