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As we work to help meet the world’s growing energy needs, we aim to reduce the environmental impact of our operations. Working with local communities and experts from leading environmental organisations helps us better understand and address the challenges we face in running our facilities and developing major projects.

Working to reduce the environmental impact of our operations takes rigorous planning. We focus on key areas including managing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, using less energy and water, preventing spills, flaring less gas produced with oil, and conserving biodiversity. (For details see Environmental performance.)

We manage CO2 emissions through using more energy-efficient technologies and processes, and by reducing flaring in our operations. We are developing a capability in carbon capture and storage. We aim to prevent spills through strict standards and by making sure that our facilities are well designed, safely operated and properly maintained.

The availability of fresh water is a growing challenge for the energy industry as developing new resources, such as tight gas, can be water intensive. Operating in water-scarce areas may bring operational and commercial challenges as regulations on water use tighten and the costs of using water increase. Shell is taking steps to better manage our use of water. We are using innovative approaches and advanced technologies in the design and operation of our facilities to reduce our use of fresh water, and to recycle more water.

At our Groundbirch tight gas project in British Columbia, Canada, for example, we are reducing the amount of fresh water we use from local sources. We operate a storage and recycling facility for the water used in tight gas production. Pipelines transport the water to where it is needed in the field, reducing truck movements. We have also funded the building of a water-recycling plant for the nearby city of Dawson Creek. The plant will treat water so that it can be reused in our operations and for other industrial and municipal needs (see opinion below).

When we plan a major project, or an expansion to an existing facility, we conduct an environmental impact assessment. As part of this we consider the potential effects on local biodiversity, and take steps to address them. Through our partnership with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) we have developed eight action plans for major operations in areas of rich biodiversity, and we are developing plans in Iraq, Ireland, Kazakhstan, Nigeria and the UK.


Mike Bernier, Mayor of Dawson Creek City, British Columbia, Canada (photo)

After experiencing several years of decreased rainfall, in addition to increased growth of the natural gas industry in north-east British Columbia, the City of Dawson Creek realised that a new solution would need to be explored to sustain our precious water resource. After the City reached out for help, Shell came forward and a partnership was formed that resulted in the City of Dawson Creek reclaimed water plant, an innovative and successful project that we can all be proud of. We are now a national model of what can be accomplished when communities and business work together with everyone’s best interests in mind.”

Mike Bernier
Mayor of Dawson Creek City, British Columbia, Canada