Monday, March 20, 2017

Geoethics of fracking and oil

by Franco Oboni
Franco Oboni

(Riskope, Vancouver B.C. Canada; email:

Picture credit: © Copyright K A

We recently read about geoethics of fracking and oil in this blog.

Stephen Crittenden, the author of the paper, brilliantly explains "bad practices" in geoethics of fracking and oil, which strike stunning similarities with ethical issues in mining, a topic we are familiar and have written over 20 papers in the last 10 years.

Stephen adeptly starts by defining "bad practices" as both, deliberate and accidental (avoidable) and sometimes due to ignorance while lamenting the negative publicity suffered by oil and gas industry.

The reasons he invokes for the bad publicity are reasons we have discussed for mining at length in the Riskope Blog in the past, namely:

1) The lack of clarity in explaining/communicating to the public what the industry does, how it does it and what are the resulting risks to people, infrastructure and the environment. We discussed this specific theme at CIM in 2013 in a paper titled:"Can we stop misrepresenting reality to the public?"). Energy has striking resemblance with mining insofar it is required to sustain our societies, but also generates risks that should be managed while ensuring economic sustainability.

2) The lack of undefined terminology (you can download an ISO 31000 compatible version here) and jargon, leading to endless misinterpretations and re-interpretations, often for political reasons (which we exposed in our chapter in Geohazards Caused by Human Activity).

3) The apparent "gaps" in Corporate Social Responsibility and "Corporate Ethics and Compliance" due to simplistic approaches which we discussed here.

4) The poorly explained evolution the industry has followed in the last decades, although, like for the mining industry, tarnished by some highly publicized accidents with the shortcomings discussed here.

So, we know the culprits, but way more importantly, we know how to fix them.
Why do we want to fix them? Because we want to serve our societies and make economic, environmental, ethical sense with our operations.

This will not be "lip-service". It is the correct approach.