Deconstructing Compensation: Benefit-sharing and co-dependency between oil companies and indigenous communities in Russia and Alaska

OCTF seminar followed by drinks – all welcome

There is little doubt the benefit sharing policy for Arctic regions is essential, as it impacts the livelihoods of thousands of Arctic residents who depend on land, sea, and access to natural resources. It is important that the energy sector shares a portion derived from the resource extraction with the local inhabitants in an equitable, transparent, and just way, allowing all stakeholders to be a part of the process and outcome of benefit sharing. This presentation focuses on developing the systematic understanding and typology of benefit sharing arrangements within the oil sector in the Russian Arctic and Alaska. Benefit sharing arrangements between oil and natural gas companies and indigenous communities were investigated in Nenets, Yamalo-Nenets, and Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Districts, Komi Republic, Surgut, Irkutsk and Sakhalin regions in Russia and the North Slope of Alaska. The presentation provides a critical analysis of prevalent arrangements and practices (modes and mechanisms of benefit sharing) as well as examines institutional and social underpinnings of these benefit sharing frameworks. It is demonstrated that Indigenous communities are not equally benefitting from oil and gas extraction, and no benefit sharing policy model seems to ensure a sustainable local development. This may stem from the mismatch between benefit sharing policies and local institutional frameworks, as well as because of the differences in understanding of development by indigenous people, governments, and transnational corporations. It seems that this research highlights general patterns of the interaction of indigenous peoples and oil companies across the Arctic as regard to benefit sharing arrangements.

Dr Maria Tysiachniouk holds a Master of Science in Environmental Studies from Bard College, NY, a PhD in Biology from the Russian Academy of Sciences, and a PhD in Sociology from Wageningen University, the Netherlands. Since 1994 she has studied environmental movements in Russia. Since 2004 she has studied the role of NGOs in global resource governance and published a book Transnational governance through private authority: the case of Forest Stewardship Council Certification in Russia. In 2012 she started extensive research on transnational oil production chains in Russian Arctic and Alaska, focusing on the interactions between oil companies, NGOs and indigenous communities. Maria Tysiachniouk has written more than 190 publications on topics related to transnational environmental governance, edited several books, and has fieldwork experience in several countries and regions. She is currently Chair of the Environmental Sociology group at the Center for Independent Social Research, St. Petersburg and a senior research fellow in Durham University.