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We believe it all comes down to trust

BLACK SEA
OIL & GAS

We believe it all comes down to trust

Globuc talked to Radi Basha, Abkons, who shared details of operating as a Trans Adriatic Pipeline contractor and discussed how oil and gas companies could improve their land management practices.

Abkons was selected as a contractor for the Trans Adriatic Pipeline. What was your role in the project?

Our engagement with TAP goes back to 2009 when we were hired to advise on matters related to its activities in Albania. We supported TAP on scoping, public disclosure, and public consultation work on the TAP Albania Environmental Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) report. We conducted archaeological work, traffic surveys on access roads impacted by the project, supply, and demand-side analysis, and the study of compensation values, as well as secured construction permits. We also advised TAP on Land Easement and Acquisition matters to secure the right of way in Albania. Abkons involved hundreds of experienced and young professionals to complete the Land Acquisition for Albania section in time and with excellent quality. No hotspots emerged in the section, with over 80% of interest-holders signing contracts with TAP.

https://abkons.com/

Advised by Abkons TAP also adopted an effective stakeholder engagement process, founded on trust and local community involvement at every step. TAP held a thorough consultation process, holding around 500 community meetings and mapping out land ownership through systematic procuring of legal documents. Sensitive local land uses, including beekeeping and fishing, were addressed as priorities.

In 2017, Abkons was commissioned by TAP to provide Project Management Services for the implementation of Social and Environment Investment (SEI) construction projects.

We have been a pioneer of a sensitive, progressive doctrine of regional development – and one that has proved highly effective. Abkons continues to work across the region with similar clients to implement this approach.

What is your experience working with energy players?

We work in partnership not only with energy multinationals like TAP, Shell, and Statkraft but also international financial institutions and the public sector. We believe it all comes down to trust. Clients need partners with established reputations. And finding trusted partners is key. On paper, this seems simple: trust, meaningful engagement, and integrity at every step. In practice, this approach often seems the hardest. We are committed and have the operational capacity to successfully implement this approach, no matter how volatile the context.

We have dealt with several complex projects in the Western Balkans region, and we believe our openness has been an important part of our working relationship with every client and partner, be it an energy player or an international institution.

How can oil & gas companies improve their land management practices?

Land goes to the heart of the identity and welfare of any community, not least in an agricultural context. Projects affecting use or ownership of land must tread with caution to mitigate the inevitable social, political, and legal obstacles that emerge when land interests are threatened. A preferable approach encompasses goodwill, sensitivity to local needs, and avoidance/minimizing of involuntary resettlement. EBRD performance requirements and IFC performance standards provide useful guides of how this might be done.

Land acquisition is a complex exercise involving developers, landowners, and their dependents, local communities, local government, and national government. A multi-faceted approach has to be taken to ensure this potentially volatile web of relationships remains stable and productive. Developers should establish long-term, positive relationships with communities by minimizing land impacts, consulting and involving local people, and harnessing local expertise to increase project effectiveness. Local government is the likely target of complaints in development contexts, and so developers should liaise closely with municipal authorities to ease tension and address concerns. Clear channels of communication must exist with the national government, which is typically responsible for the expropriation process, to ensure a well-planned land acquisition process.

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