An Oklahoma oil company’s duty of care to Libya inpatriates

Jim Proof, KND Staff Writer

How does the Human Relations Department at Marathon Oil deal with employee travel restrictions due to conflict?   Well, (pun) dig this:

 Drill on black gold prospectors, because exploration just got easier because Libya and Turkey have agreed to form a joint committee that will expedite the return of Turkish companies so they can resume work on stalled projects.  Maybe Marathon can continue the plunder of earth blood. 

But what about human capital management you say?

Kathy Gurchiek knows that employers have a duty of care to their business traveling employees. Gurchiek is the associate editor for the Society for Human Resource Management Online. This duty of care is an often forgotten, yet simple fact of business life. In tort law, a duty of care is a legal obligation that is imposed on an individual. This legal obligation requires adherence to a standard of reasonable care while performing any acts that could foreseeably harm others. It is the first element that must be established to proceed with an action in negligence.  
Human Resource’s duty to the organization’s employees is to help them to be prepared for success abroad and protected from harm. Human Resource’s duty to the organization’s management is to ensure success through proper global employee management and training, but also to protect the employer from the possibility of legal action from the employees. Failing to guard against ignorance of proper foreign travel procedures can leave the employees open to harm and the employers open to the expenses of litigation. 

“It is HR’s role, Koski said, to help the employer understand the implications and special needs of employees traveling to or assigned overseas, and to help the employer find solutions.” – Kathy Gurchiek,
In the article Gurchiek discussed some key human resources issues to consider when considering globally mobile employees:
Employee assessment, selection and training.

Cost projections for global assignment.

Assignment documentation.

Compensation, benefits and tax considerations.

Employee relocation assistance

Family support
 Human Resources must have a vetting process in place to assess employee candidates for global business assignments. This includes comparison of business skills in relation to those of the foreign workers the employee will be working with, assessment of key traits like cultural sensitivity, interpersonal skills, and personal flexibility and opens to new experience. The cost of sending an employee and family on an overseas assignment is upwards of three times the employee’s local salary. Calculating total costs for a global assignment is an important way the human resource department demonstrates HR’s value to the many stockholders of the organization. Deciding whether to use an expatriate or a local employee are essential in the budgeting process.

Globally mobile employees include:

 ▪ Expatriates: Any employee residing and working outside of his or her home country.

 ▪ Third-country nationals: Any employee working for a U.S. company who is from a foreign country working in another foreign country.

 ▪ Inter-regional assignees: Any employee who is functioning like an expat within a region or country.

 ▪ Key local nationals: Any executive, partner or high-level manager working in his or her own country outside the United States or Canada.

 ▪ Inpatriates: Any employee working in the United States who is a citizen of another country; often on rotation or training assignment.

 ▪ Executive travelers: Any employee on short-term assignment or extended business travel.  

    (as defined by Kathy Gurchiek of

 Human Resources Management must focus on the organization’s legal capacity to protect itself through documentation. The global employee’s specific job requirements and associated pay and benefits will have to be documented and formally communicated with the employee. This is for the benefit of the employee and to protect the employer. The global employee and their family will most likely need to be assisted with lodging abroad, foreign transportation education, education on how to go about obtaining food and household goods. All of these topics need to be considered in regards to the Human Resource Manager’s duty of care to employee and employer.
Questions that came to my mind when reading this article:

Why is it difficult to get an H1B Visa?

Oklahoma oil companies involved in Libya?

Inpatriates, are they affected by the current Muslim travel ban?
I found that it is increasingly difficult to obtain an H1B Visa for work in the United States. There are several factors in H1B Visa qualification.  

These include: 

Occupation type 

Immigration status

the limit of H-1B visas allowed per federal fiscal year. 

(A fiscal year begins on October 1st and ends on September 30th of the following year. Current regulations set the cap at 65,000 H-1B visas for the entire country. Applications are accepted at the USCIS on a first-come, first-serve basis.)
Oklahoma in Libya:
“Marathon Oil is a member of the Waha Group, which acquired exploration and production rights in Libya in the mid-1950s. Marathon Oil holds a 16 percent non-operated working interest in the Waha Concessions, which encompass almost 13 million gross acres located in the Sirte Basin of eastern Libya, where civil and political unrest continues to interrupt our production operations.” – 
Marathon Oil has been involved in Oklahoma exploration and production for 100 years.

Marathon Oil held approximately 265,000 net surface acres in the Oklahoma Resource Basins in 2015; this acreage includes the SCOOP area, with rights to the unconventional Woodford, Springer, Meramec, Granite Wash and other Pennsylvanian and Mississippian sands plays; the STACK area with rights to the unconventional Woodford, Meramec and other Mississippian plays; and the broader western Oklahoma Granite Wash and other Pennsylvanian sands plays.

In August 2016 Marathon Oil acquired approximately 61,000 net surface acres and current production of 9,000 net barrels of oil equivalent per day in the oil window of the Anadarko Basin STACK play in Oklahoma. Marathon Oil has well-established production in Oklahoma from conventional operations in the Ammunition, Cement, Elk City, Huntley, Knox, Marlow, Rocky, Strong City, Watonga (better known for its cheese) and Wheatland fields.
As far as Inpatriates being affected by the new Trump administration travel ban, well that remains to be seen by decisions coming soon from the lower courts. Human Relations Departments must take in to account the many conflicting concepts regarding human capital management. In such times of international political flux, the task seems impossible at best.    
( Gurchiek , 2007, Helping Prepare Workers for Global Postings Falls to HR, – Oct 9, 2007)

(Noe, 2015, Human Resource Management Gaining a Competitive Advantage / 9e)

Berkeley International Office (

Marathon Oil,, (


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