Prior to drilling the Al Khayr prospect, Kosmos conducted a Social Impact Assessment (SIA) in Western Sahara to present the project to local stakeholders and address potential concerns. This assessment was conducted to complement the EIA. The SIA strengthened our understanding of our potential socioeconomic impacts and created a strong foundation for an ongoing local dialogue.

First Study of Its Kind in Western Sahara

While SIA is a standard practice of the industry worldwide, we believe this is the first time an international company operating in the region has initiated such a process. The SIA was conducted by Golder Associates, an independent international consulting firm specializing in helping companies assess potential environmental and social impacts.


The purpose of the SIA was threefold:

  1.  Obtain a baseline of social and economic conditions before oil industry activity begins so that the impacts can be measured in the future;
  2. Understand and mitigate any potential adverse impacts from the activities; and
  3. Collect information that enables future oil industry activity to benefit workers, communities, and local businesses, assuming that exploration is successful and development proceeds.
Scope of Social Impacts Assessment

The assessment included a comprehensive social baseline study as well as a 2.5 week field mission in Agadir and Dakhla. These two locations were selected because they hosted our only onshore activities—with our shore base in Agadir and crew changes taking place in Dakhla. While the SIA study area was defined according to potential impacts of the Al Khayr drilling project, it also took into account the bigger picture of a possible oil discovery offshore Western Sahara.


Consultations targeted individuals that may have been potentially impacted, or concerned that they would be impacted, by our operations. We held meetings with elected officials, business leaders, tribal leaders, as well as representatives from civil society organizations, the tourism industry, and the fishing community. Because Kosmos’ exploration well was to be drilled far offshore, with a limited onshore presence, many of our meetings specifically targeted coastal businesses and organizations related to tourism and fishing.


Several senior executives from Kosmos attended the meetings to hear directly from stakeholders and join in the discussions.


The SIA helped to validate and confirm the findings of the EIA, as well as the desktop social baseline study. The assessment did not reveal any significant adverse impacts from the drilling project.  However, the process did draw our attention to several important local concerns that we immediately worked to address. This feedback also highlighted the key local issues that will require ongoing commitment and attention, even as the broader sociopolitical issues regarding the discovery are addressed.



The primary concern expressed during consultation was related to environmental protection. Participants emphasized the critical role that fisheries play in the local economy and were particularly concerned about how an oil spill could impact the fishing sector. Participants felt as though they did not have sufficient understanding of Kosmos’ approach to environmental management, and there was also criticism that the EIA process was opaque. As a result of this feedback, Kosmos organized follow-up workshops in Dakhla with senior executives and the environmental consultant who led our EIA to allow for continued discussion on Kosmos’ approach to environmental management.


Access to Benefits

During consultations, participants expressed disappointment about the lack of jobs that would be created by an offshore drilling project. While participants appreciated the discussion about the high-tech nature of offshore drilling, they also emphasized their expectation that any future hiring or sourcing give preference to local people and companies. Following these discussions, we reevaluated our operational needs, and were able to identify and create several additional jobs in Dakhla. We have also invested in future-looking studies on local workforce and supply chain opportunities.


The social baseline study and field mission also drew attention to the fair distribution of benefits. There were many questions about who would receive jobs created by the project, revenues from a development, and access to social investment projects. As we move forward, we will be working with international experts and local communities to ensure that our local hiring and social investment decisions take a conflict-sensitive approach and avoid deepening ethnic, political and economic divisions.



Transparency was a common theme that emerged from the SIA consultations. Some participants expressed frustration that business conducted in Western Sahara often proceeds without sufficient local engagement, and ultimately with few local benefits. Participants welcomed Kosmos’ transparent approach thus far, but stressed the importance of transparency in a discovery case, particularly related to the potential  benefits.  To support improved communications and our commitment to transparency, Kosmos hired a Community Relations Coordinator based in Dakhla to ensure communities have real-time access to information on the project and a local contact to express any feedback or grievances.

Continuing Engagement and Consultation

If our exploration is successful, it will take more time and work to determine whether sufficient hydrocarbon resources exist to justify development. More engagement with local people will be required, as well as consultation by the Government of Morocco on the wider issues facing oil and gas development.


In our Position Statement and Joint Declaration of Principles, we have publicly committed to ensuring that local populations are involved, consulted, and benefit equitably and in a transparent manner from any potential future development. Consistent with this approach, our SIA collected input from Saharawis living in areas potentially affected by our operations.