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Durham University

Institute of Advanced Study


Despite COVID-19, the IAS plans to hold a full programme of virtual lectures and seminars. Further events will be added to this page as they are scheduled.

COFUND Fellows' Seminar - Oil and people in the Arctic, scientific and artistic view

25th February 2019, 13:00 to 14:00, Seminar Room, Institute of Advanced Study, Dr Maria Tysiachniouk (Wageningen University)


In this paper Dr Maria Tysiachniouk presents outcomes of her field work, illustrated by young artists, with whom she has traveled to different Arctic regions, affected by oil and gas extraction and inhabited by indigenous people.

Oil extraction in remote territories of the Arctic brings opportunities for development to remote areas, as well as costs to local communities and indigenous peoples, affecting their subsistence way of life and making land unavailable for traditional resource use. In many cases, it is apparent that the costs of resource extraction to local communities outweigh the benefits. Most transnational corporations working in the Arctic oil and gas sector have declared their commitment to benefit-sharing arrangements that assist indigenous communities and protect indigenous rights to land and access to traditional resources, but the local implementation of these commitments varies.

There are several modes of interaction between oil companies and indigenous peoples through which benefits are shared:

Paternalistic mode: The state is a dominant actor in this mode, and it monitors and intervenes in companies’ corporate social responsibility. The company adds to or substitutes the state’s efforts to provide support to local communities and Indigenous peoples, who do not control the delivery of benefits. In Russia, the paternalistic mode is rooted in the lingering effects of the Soviet past, and often results in the Indigenous peoples’ dependency on the oil companies [Russia, Alaska]

Company-centered corporate social responsibility (CCSR) mode: The companies adopt globally developed standards, coming primarily from international organizations and investors. Companies pursuing benefit sharing arrangements consider both global standards and local path-dependent practices. Company-centered social responsibility (CCSR) may involve sponsorship of cultural and sporting events, grants or other payments. Decisions and activities are designed to address narrowly-conceived company compliance needs and relationships with other actors, based on corporate self-regulation [Russia, Alaska]

Partnership mode: This type of benefit sharing rests on the tripartite partnerships among the oil companies, government, and Indigenous communities. The partnership mode fosters development, empowerment, self-sufficiency, and participatory decision making in the Indigenous communities. [Russia, Alaska].

Shareholder mode: Involves dividend funds and shares from regional and village corporations. The latter contracts with extractive companies on the Indigenous-owned land. Individual shareholders receive dividend payments. [Alaska]

Despite the diversity of modes, 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.

Places are limited and so any academic colleagues or students interested in attending a seminar should register online in advance to reserve a place. Places will be confirmed within 48 hours of receipt (subject to availability). Alternatively please contact the Institute in advance to reserve a place.

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