The Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) of the United Kingdom has announced a year-long “mediation pilot” to handle disputes between oil and gas licensees, operators, and infrastructure owners in the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS). The pilot is being rolled out with the intention of testing how effective mediation can be in resolving disputes between these parties and for disputing parties to have some ownership over the outcome.
Benefits of the Pilot
OGA noted that historical data shows conflicts generally arise among these populations due to “entrenched licensee behaviors or communication breakdowns,” both of which it feels could be handled effectively if the individuals involved were empowered to do so.
OGA revealed they hope this pilot will encourage those involved with gas-related conflict to take efforts toward resolution rather than waiting for a decision to be handed down to them. Their hope is that resolutions can be met more quickly under this program rather than drag on for months or even years if escalated to the OGA for a decision.
There’s also the matter of cost, which OGA noted as another drawback to allowing disputes to take up more time and resources to resolve.
Reminder for Employers
Regardless of whether you work for or own a business in the oil and gas industry, it still rings true that conflict in business can be costly, time-consuming, and ineffective in the end. From poor communication to a company culture that fosters “entrenched behaviors,” your business and its employees may be operating in a way that is detrimental to successful collaboration with others, thus increasing the likelihood of conflict. It can be better for your budget, productivity, and reputation to stay ahead of these issues before they start and ensure your company isn’t contributing to a culture of conflict in your industry.
OGA’s mediation pilot also reminds employers that if you do find yourself managing dispute-heavy teams of employees, it might be worth empowering them to collaborate on solutions rather than get involved and be the one to hand down consequences and expectations. If the pilot proves to be a success, OGA, who’s main role is to regulate, influence, and promote the UK oil and gas industry while maximizing economic recovery, will be able to put their focus on important details beyond dealing with in-fighting.
A Trial with Possibility for Success
Overall, this seems to be a positive step for OGA and other industries and businesses who may follow suit if success is gained. By giving employees an opportunity to navigate conflict on their own, they may reduce the negative impacts of conflict as well as the conflict itself. By arming workers to handle conflict resolution on their own, they’re getting the skills needed to reduce conflict before it even begins and learning an empowering skill that is useful both within the workplace and in their home life.