Comparative Analysis of Hydraulic Fracturing Wastewater Practices in Unconventional Shale Development: Newspaper Coverage of Stakeholder Concerns and Social License to Operate
24 Pages Posted: 10 Sep 2016 Last revised: 12 Oct 2016
Date Written: September 6, 2016
In this article we review prior literature regarding the concept of social license to operate, and related concepts, including corporate social responsibility, sustainable development, stakeholder management and cumulative effects. Informed by these concepts, we search for newspaper articles published in North American provinces and states where the Barnett, Duvernay, Marcellus and Montney shale plays are located. Using these data, we tabulate coverage of stakeholder concerns related to hydraulic fracturing and wastewater practices, and compare the extent to which these concerns vary over place and time. Our vocabulary analyses identify differences in the types and quantities of newspaper coverage devoted to concerns regarding hydraulic fracturing activities in general and wastewater practices in particular. We interpret these differences as suggesting that obtaining a social license to operate is likely not a one size fits all proposition. By understanding which stakeholder concerns are most salient in particular places and times, oil and gas operators and regulators can better tailor their strategies and policies to address local concerns. In other words, the findings from this study indicate that conventional understandings of risk as a technical or economic problem may not be adequate for dealing with unconventional resource challenges such as hydraulic fracturing. Operators and regulators may also need to manage social and cultural risks.
Keywords: Social License to Operate, Hydraulic Fracturing, Oil and Gas Industry, Sustainability, Stakeholder Management, Corporate Social Responsibility, Cumulative Effects Management
JEL Classification: M14, O13, N5
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation