Management systems and standards

Corporate citizenship at Imperial Oil is integrated in the 16 policies that make up our Standards of Business Conduct. We ensure long-term performance through our management systems, which include System of Management Control Basic Standards, Controls Integrity Management System (CIMS), Operations Integrity Management System (OIMS), and Best Practices in External Affairs (BPEA).

Standards of Business Conduct
Imperial’s Standards of Business Conduct form the foundation of our commitment to the highest ethical standards and provide each of our employee and non-employee directors with a common set of ethical standards. The Standards consist of guiding principles, 17 foundation policies and open-door communication procedures. The Standards include clear guidance on ethics, gifts and entertainment, conflicts of interest, antitrust and directorship policies. Responsibilities for authorizing, approving and recording financial transactions are appropriately segregated to reduce risks.

No one at Imperial has the authority to make exceptions or grant waivers with respect to the Standards. Our integrity and reputation depend on our employees’ understanding of and compliance with these policies. Employees, including supervisors and managers, are subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination for violation of our policies. In addition, contractors who violate our policies may be denied site access.

Human rights
Imperial does not tolerate violations of human rights in any form in its business. Our Standards of Business Conduct provide a framework for operating responsibly and are consistent with the spirit and intent of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights as it applies to private companies.

Control systems
Business control systems are rigorously applied at our operations across Canada. Our System of Management Control Basic Standards defines the basic principles, concepts and standards that make up our business controls. Our Controls Integrity Management System provides a structured approach for assessing financial-control risks, establishing procedures for mitigating concerns, monitoring compliance with standards and reporting results to management. Regular self-assessments and audits ensure that operating controls and standards are met by every operating unit. Our controls meet or exceed the requirements of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and the NYSE listing standards. An independent assessment carried out in 2011 by registered auditors of PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, confirmed that our internal controls system is sound.

Operations Integrity Management System
Our Operations Integrity Management System (OIMS) has been in place since 1992 and addresses safety, health, security and environmental risks at our facilities. OIMS provides a systematic, structured, and disciplined approach across our businesses and facilities and enables us to measure progress and management accountability in these areas. It also ensures that we appropriately engage with the communities in which we operate.

OIMS is embedded in day-to-day work processes to establish common expectations that every operating unit must fulfill to proactively manage risk. Over time, it has become a part of our culture and the way our organization works, improving operations reliability and reducing safety, security, health and environmental risks and impacts. OIMS is implemented over the complete life cycle of a project — from exploration and development to production and reclamation — and ensures that management is accountable for results. We expect our business-line managers to comply with all OIMS requirements and conduct OIMS assessments of our operations annually.

Managing operational integrity
The overall effectiveness of OIMS is reviewed every five years and adjusted accordingly. As a result, OIMS has been continuously improved to include behaviour-based safety, security, environmental matters and enhanced community involvement.

Lloyd’s Register Quality Assurance, Inc. (LRQA) confirmed that OIMS meets the requirements of the ISO 14001 standard for environmental management systems. LRQA also recognized that OIMS meets all the requirements of the Occupational Health and Safety Assessment Series for health and safety management systems (OHSAS 18001).

Operational integrity assessments
Under OIMS, every operating unit undergoes a regular cycle of improvement with self-assessments each year and external assessments every three to five years. External assessments are conducted by company experts outside the operating unit being assessed. In each case, opportunities for improvement are identified and addressed, and progress is monitored through regular management reviews.

Operational Integrity at work
The Deepwater Horizon incident in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 reconfirmed the importance of OIMS in assessing and mitigating risk. All Imperial drilling operations require rigorous application of OIMS. As a result, our wells are subject to extensive analysis and modeling, multiple reviews and design verifications, and a rigorous assessment of the execution plan to ensure implementation meets company standards. We carefully examine each step in the planning, design and operation of a well to identify and understand the risks, and determine how to prevent an incident from occurring. This typically involves multiple layers of review.

With more than 80 years of Arctic experience, and of a sustained commitment to Arctic technology research and development for more than 35 years, Imperial and our affiliates are uniquely positioned to operate safely and in an environmentally responsible manner in cold and ice-prone regions.

We are currently exploring for oil and natural gas in the Beaufort Sea through a joint venture with ExxonMobil and BP. The Ajurak-Pokak joint venture involves a large exploration area off Canada's north shore and is one example of how we are putting OIMS into action.

In 2011, Canada's National Energy Board released the results of a review of offshore drilling operations as a result of the Gulf of Mexico incident. Imperial agrees with and supports the improvements outlined in the NEB reports that are directed at greater involvement of northerners and increased transparency in regulatory applications.

Responsible Care®
Another confirmation of OIMS effectiveness is our participation in Responsible Care®, an initiative of the Chemistry Industry Association of Canada (CIAC) that requires CIAC members to dedicate themselves, their technology and their business practices to sustainability – the ongoing betterment of society, the environment and the economy. Many of their strict codes of practice govern the safe and environmentally responsible handling of chemicals throughout their life cycle. At Imperial Oil, these codes are met by OIMS. In addition to conducting self-assessments, all CIAC members, as a condition of membership, undergo verification by an external team every three years to determine if they are continuing to meet Responsible Care® requirements. Companies, for example, are tested for evidence that they:

  • have effective personnel and process safety management systems
  • are able to manage emergencies
  • identify, manage and work to minimize emissions and wastes
  • assess the ability of distributors to correctly handle their products
  • know community concerns and respond sensitively to them

In 2011, Imperial successfully completed the 2010 verification by an external assessment team, which included a community neighbour and an environmentalist who is also member of the National Advisory Panel of the CIAC. As a result of its examination, the team found that “the Responsible Care Ethic and Principles for Sustainability are guiding Imperial Oil Chemicals decisions and actions, and that a self-healing management system is in place to drive continual improvement.” The next scheduled verification will be in 2013.

Best Practices in External Affairs
At Imperial, we are continually working to enhance the quality of our community engagement and external relations. We use a strategic planning and management tool, called Best Practices in External Affairs, to develop and carry out comprehensive and robust community awareness plans. This tool enables us to optimize the impact and value of community outreach programs by managing relationships with external stakeholders through better understanding of the viewpoints and concerns of the diverse communities in which we operate. Public Affairs works with different operations to increase their understanding of the tool, to identify local requirements for stakeholder engagement and to help them develop an action plan. Each operation stewards their community relations performance against the plan.