Community engagement during Majnoon project development, Al Nashwa, Iraq. (photo)

Community engagement during Majnoon
project development, Al Nashwa, Iraq.

Iraq is slowly rebuilding, but after years of conflict the country faces tough challenges. Many of its people still lack access to the reliable energy that would help provide basic comforts and a way to improve their lives. Jobs are scarce. But with the country steadily restoring output from its oil and gas fields, there are signs that the economic future looks brighter.

In 2011, Shell continued to help improve Iraq’s energy supplies, build skills among local people and contribute revenues to the government that can help to rebuild the country. We also continued to forge stronger relationships with communities close to our operations.

In a significant step forward for the country’s energy future, Iraq’s Ministry of Oil approved a final agreement in late 2011 for Shell and partners to set up a joint venture, the Basrah Gas Company, to capture gas produced with oil from some fields in the south. Much of this gas is currently flared. When the new venture starts operations, the gas will be used to generate electricity for the national grid, adding to the vital energy supplies Iraq needs if its economy is to prosper. In the future, some gas may be exported to earn further revenue for the government. Shell has a 44% interest in this joint venture, Iraq’s South Gas Company has 51%, and Mitsubishi the remaining 5%.

Work continues to repair the country’s energy infrastructure, but homes and businesses are still suffering frequent power cuts. Shell is involved in plans to build a 50 megawatt plant that will generate electricity using gas captured by the Basrah Gas Company. This electricity supply will allow Khor Al Zubair – one of the country’s largest gas processing plants – to operate independently of the national grid, freeing up electricity for other uses.

Job skills, health and road safety

In 2011, we continued to work with local communities to help them share the benefits of energy production. By the end of the year, people from nearby towns filled around 900 of the 1,300 jobs created at Majnoon, a major oil field Shell operates in a joint venture. We help local people gain the skills they need for jobs. For example, young Iraqis from the area attended a construction course at a vocational training centre in Basra, with funding from Shell.

We also helped launch a programme to train Iraqi women volunteers in health education. The volunteers then visited local families to raise awareness of how to avoid disease and improve general health (see opinion, below).

As energy production rises, so will the activities that support it, such as trucks driving through villages on their way to and from oil fields. We launched a road safety awareness campaign during the year for around 5,000 children in primary and secondary schools in the Al Dayr and Al Nashwa communities, communicating the messages through training programmes and theatre.

In 2011, we also helped to re-open the Shatt el Arab waterway to commercial traffic for the first time in more than 30 years by dredging parts of the river and building a jetty. This is helping to develop the local economy and allows us to ship heavy equipment close to Majnoon, avoiding many road journeys.

Production at Majnoon is in its first phase with the aim of reaching around 175,000 boe a day. We have been the operator of Majnoon since 2010 and have a 45% interest, with Petronas (30%) and Iraq’s Missan Oil Company (25%) holding the rest. Shell also has a 15% interest in the West Qurna 1 field.

Flaring from Majnoon in 2011 accounted for less than 1% of the global direct greenhouse gas emissions from facilities Shell operates. We expect this flaring to rise as production grows in line with our contract with the Iraqi government. With our partners we are working to find ways to capture this gas, possibly for use in power generation.

Dr Ali Nasser Muthanna, Country Director of the AMAR International Charitable Foundation, Iraq (photo)


“Shell’s partnership with the AMAR International Charitable Foundation started in 2010. In this short time, the partnership has begun to make a tangible difference in the delivery of basic health support to the communities of Basra, by training local medical services staff and providing advanced diagnostic equipment to a local clinic. Shell also funds fuel and a mechanic to maintain the clinic’s generator. This provides a reliable power supply so that vaccines and medicines are in good condition, ready for use. Shell has also helped to launch the AMAR Women Health Volunteer programme. This is helping to improve health services to communities by recruiting and training volunteers. As a result of these improved services we are seeing more patients coming to the local clinic for diagnosis and treatment.”

Dr Ali Nasser Muthanna
Country Director of the AMAR International Charitable Foundation, Iraq