Wave of relief

Aug. 8, 2005
While researching annual reports of international oil companies for the Sept. 19 OGJ 200/100 special report, this editor noticed a trend.

While researching annual reports of international oil companies for the Sept. 19 OGJ 200/100 special report, this editor noticed a trend.

Nearly every company’s report or associated press release near the end of last year had similar disclosures: Huge financial donations were made to southeastern Asia for tsunami disaster relief aid.

On Dec. 26, 2004, parts of Asia experienced one of the worst natural disasters in history. The earthquake and resulting tsunami killed more than 250,000 people and destroyed millions of homes.

More than words

Along with news media and international governments, energy companies around the world voiced concern and support for the victims of the tsunami. Their expressions were more than words of comfort directed to the families of their employees located in the affected areas. Almost at once the real relief efforts by major oil companies started rolling in.

On Dec. 30, 2004, ExxonMobil Corp. announced that it established a corporate contribution fund to aid relief and reconstruction efforts and to match donations made by its employees, retirees, dealers, and distributors around the world.

At the fund drive’s conclusion, the money was sent to international agencies such as the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Save the Children, UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), American Red Cross, and Uplift International. Money also went to local relief funds, projects, and organizations identified by its affiliates in Indonesia, Thailand, India, and Malaysia. A substantial amount was earmarked for Indonesia’s Aceh region, a site of significant ExxonMobil operations.

On Jan. 11, Encana Corp. amended its matching gift policy by double-matching all individual employee contributions for the tsunami relief funds. That policy was complemented by the Canadian government’s dollar-for-dollar match program. The funds were forwarded to primary aid organizations such as the Red Cross, World Vision, Care Canada, Oxfam, and UNICEF.

Petro-Canada matched funds donated by its employees, retailers, and wholesalers to raise money for the Red Cross Asian Disaster Relief. Its international business section donated money to the London-based Disasters Emergency Committee to help with tsunami relief work.

From Brazil, Petrobras organized a fund-raising collection to help populations affected by the tsunami in southwestern Asia.

From Norway, Norsk Hydro contributed immediate aid to tsunami victims through the Save the Children fund.

More than money

Other energy companies sent aid in the form of material goods and services.

On Jan. 3, ConocoPhillips Co. announced the formation of a major corporate contribution fund with an accompanying employee-retiree fund-matching program. The company’s area affiliates gathered food, clothing, and other supplies to be distributed to local damaged areas.

On May 26, Chevron Corp. and the US Agency for International Development announced a public-private alliance to support immediate and long-term vocational training in Indonesia. The alliance is meant to support the Indonesian government’s plan to assist in restoring people’s livelihoods following the disaster. Training will be provided in such diverse skills as construction, teaching, community development, computers, electronics, and telecommunications.

On Dec. 27, Total SA set up a crisis team in Paris to consolidate information provided by its subsidiaries in India, Myanmar, Thailand, Indonesia, Bangladesh, and Malaysia. The company allocated emergency aid to leading international organizations and provided support to rehabilitate the devastated areas and to build new homes. It developed a program in India to help craftsmen replace their tools.

Royal Dutch Shell PLC staff contributed to the disaster relief in practical ways as well as donating money. Some of the staff in local areas gave free fuel for rescue work, bottled water, and medical supplies. Shell Malaysia volunteers cleaned beaches and distributed books and clothing in Penang and Kedah. Shell Thailand delivered 500 new 200-l. drums to households for use as storage tanks for clean water to help prevent possible epidemics.

BP PLC offered cash donations, product donations, and logistical support. The company provided round-the-clock refueling service for emergency flights bringing aid to the affected areas and chartered a Singapore-based Hercules aircraft for the International Red Cross. The Hercules moved large quantities of critical heavy machinery to Aceh. BP Solar provided 100 solar lanterns for use in Sri Lanka.

Also, BP Gas Austria supported the Red Cross aid in Asia with part of the proceeds from sales of “The Big BP Gas Cookery Book.”

In addition to the examples mentioned here, many more oil and gas companies rushed to give aid where aid was desperately needed. There are simply too many to list.