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Engaging with communities

Wang Dingping (photo)

External opinion

“Shell’s and PetroChina’s Fushun shale gas project has gradually brought benefits to Luxian county. The development of shale gas is in line with our national energy strategy and also provides energy security for Sichuan province. In the past, we relied on gas supplied from Luzhou City; now, we have started to export gas to Luzhou.

Yet there are downsides, such as a lack of communication about the project’s environmental impacts on villagers. Though the impacts of shale gas development on ground water remain hotly debated, Shell still needs to convey any relevant information to villagers as they have an increasing expectation of greater disclosure of information.”

Wang Dingping
Former Deputy Director, Economic and Information Bureau, Luxian county, Sichuan province, China

The first stage of planning projects involves carrying out an impact assessment to understand the potential effects on local communities, including people’s health and the environment. The Shell team may include people with specialist skills in areas such as working with indigenous peoples, land and resettlement, or cultural heritage. Their work will highlight potential risks that may affect a project, such as a site containing an area of cultural significance.

At every review stage of the project we consider environmental, social and health impacts and decide whether and how best to move ahead. The assessment of these risks may lead to the revision of project plans, such as rerouting pipelines or working with contractors in a different way. (See “Environmental and social risk specialists”).

There are many ways in which community members can contact Shell if they have concerns, for instance, we host community meetings, conduct surveys, have community advisory panels and employee telephone hotlines. We also inform people of any impacts that may affect them during our operations, such as higher levels of traffic.

Concerns from the community can also be raised through our community feedback mechanisms or shared with a community liaison officer based in the area. (See External opinions for community views). Our community feedback mechanisms are designed to capture and resolve concerns to prevent them from escalating. Concerns include levels of local employment, human rights and issues such as noise and dust. We are implementing these mechanisms across our operations.

This closer dialogue with communities can help to remedy grievances. For example, at the Shell-operated Jinqiu tight gas project in China’s Sichuan Province, which started in 2011, there was a direct link between a reduction in blockades by the community and the introduction of a community feedback programme by Shell and our partner, PetroChina. The project was developed over three stages. During the first stage, there had been concerns among community members about increased traffic and compensation for land access resulting in 238 days of delays. Community liaison officers were hired locally and feedback mechanisms introduced in each community. In the final phase of the project, completed in 2014, only seven days were lost due to disruptions.