14 Dec 2016
SCHOOL RESETTLEMENT PIONEERS BEST PRACTICE IN IRAQ
Putting safety into action and pioneering best practice in Iraq, Basrah Gas Company has worked closely with the Provincial Council, the Ministry of Education, the Municipality of Zubair and the Head of Tribes to successfully drive the resettlement of teachers and students from Al Raha School to a safer location.
When the BGC joint venture formed 3 years ago the company conducted a thorough assessment of its inherited pipeline routes. The study discovered that the Al Raha school, an existing community school, had been located too close to the company’s operational pipelines to be considered safe. Promoting international standards in its practice of Safety and Social Performance, Basrah Gas led the formation of a resettlement action committee comprised of key stakeholders and subsequently facilitated consultations with parents and teachers at the school to ensure that participative discussions were pursued before the start of planning and works.
Diego Perez-Claramunt, Basrah Gas’s Corporate Affairs Director, spoke about the consultations and the works that ensued to resettle the school to a safe location, “The temporary resettlement was carried out in a challenging environment where community consultation had rarely been undertaken to address risks involving the welfare of local communities. Overall, there was limited understanding by the public on pipeline safety.
Approximately 60 parents, along with key community stakeholders and local authorities attended consultation sessions and agreed the quickest course of action was to relocate to a temporary school until a permanent one was developed. BGC then worked with the local authorities to ensure that temporary classrooms were of high quality, air conditioned and with full specification for the safety of the school community.”
Developing the temporary school was an integrated effort between Basrah Gas Company and the local authorities with the completed facilities located on an adjoining, safer site, which is now compliant with Iraqi Laws for pipeline exclusion.
The relocated school was officially opened on the 14th of December, 2016. At the opening, Mr. Simon Daman Willems, Managing Director of Basrah Gas expressed: “Safety is our highest priority in Basrah Gas, and I am extremely proud we have been instrumental in the delivery of this relocation project. We have also donated a fully equipped health clinic to provide first-aid assistance to members of the surrounding rural communities, who would otherwise have to travel long distances to the nearest medical facility.”
Mr Ali Shadad. Head of the Oil and Gas Committee of the Basrah Provincial Council stated: “We are very happy that Basrah Gas Company has taken this initiative, which is the first of its kind, to prove its care for the Basrawi community. This proves that Basrah Gas Company is a responsible neighbour.”
A teacher from Al Raha School said: “The children have been able to settle quickly into their new classrooms. We are all happy with the new facilities. The addition of a neighbouring health clinic is also a very welcome addition for our community.”
Al-Raha school has a student and faculty population of around 200. Two additional, smaller community schools have also been identified by Basrah Gas as requiring resettlement away from the pipeline. Work on addressing the needs of these two schools and their stakeholders are ongoing.
Basrah Gas Company (BGC) is a 25 year joint venture between South Gas Company, Shell and Mitsubishi. BGC captures and processes gas, previously flared, in order to create increased energy supplies as part of the largest gas investment in Iraq’s history.