Rights in focus

December 8, 1999, 08:00 CET

The main findings from a country survey of Azerbaijan funded by Statoil and BP Amoco will be presented at a seminar in Oslo today, 8 December.

Launched at the initiative of the two companies, this study forms part of efforts by Statoil to secure a better grasp of its community role in countries where it pursues exploration and production operations.

External professional assistance has been sought by the group in order to train on issues associated with human rights in such nations.

"The aim of the Azerbaijan study has been to develop a standard tool we can use in countries which host our international operations," explains Anne Kristin Sydnes, vice president for political risk and country analysis in International Exploration & Production.

"We want to know more about the impact of our presence in such places, which will strengthen our opportunities to contribute positively to social developments there."

Statoil wants to apply the methodology developed for the Azerbaijan study in other countries, with a similar survey currently under way in Angola and plans to launch another in Venezuela.

The principal conclusions of the first study will be unveiled at the Oslo meeting by Tor Ivar Pedersen, Statoil's manager in Azerbaijan.

This seminar is being organised by the Intsok foundation, which works to promote the internationalisation of Norway's petroleum industry.

Various aspects of social development in Azerbaijan over time – including political, economic and social conditions – have been addressed by the study.

Its authors hail from various Norwegian institutions: the Econ Centre for Economic Analysis, the Fridtjof Nansen Institute, the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs and the institute for human rights at the University of Oslo.

"Respect for human rights has become an integrated part of the group's policies and values because we know that a good reputation is important for our business operations," explains Mr Pedersen.

"We must ensure that this consideration becomes a natural part of our activities, as has happened with health, the environment and safety."

Read more about Azerbaijan here.