Overview of challenges

For over a hundred years the oil and gas industry has been carrying out large-scale operations extending to almost every region of the world.  Activities such as exploration, production and transport generate environmental, economic and socio-cultural impacts and effects on communities and host countries.

Significant challenges include:


  • Rising local population levels as a result of immigration, as direct labour or seeking related business opportunities
  • Disruption to traditional livelihoods and existing socio-economic systems
  • Social tensions, including conflict, between ‘newcomers’ and local communities
  • Increased cases of communicable disease as a result of the interaction between local populations and large numbers of newcomers who may introduce new pathogens to the region.
  • Destabilised socio-cultural systems, e.g. changes in social structure, organisation, beliefs, behavior.
  • Changing patterns in the availability of, and access to, public goods and services, e.g. housing, education, water, healthcare, waste disposal, electricity


  • Increased levels of corruption among government officials, local authorities and community leaders, as a result of the effect of ‘easy money’ on traditional governance mechanisms and destabilised socio-cultural systems
  • Conflicts in planning strategies, e.g. between industrial development and protection of natural resources; between industrial and recreational uses; between tourism and industry
  • Conflicts between different levels and areas of government authority, e.g. between national government agencies and regional and local authorities; between health and environment ministries on the one hand and authorities responsible for oil projects on the other.
  • Conflicts between public and private interests
  • Degradation of – and improvements to – transportation systems including road, sea and air infrastructure.


  • Pollution of water, air and soils, as a result of industrial discharges and emissions, e.g. oil leakages and spills, gas flaring and venting, solid waste disposal, discharge of water used in industrial processes
  • Changes in land-use patterns as a direct or secondary consequence of industrial operations and activities associated with those operations.
  • Restricted rights of access to natural resources by local populations
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