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At the peak of construction 25,000 people, 70% of them Russian, worked on the development in which Shell is a partner. More than 40 nationalities made up the remaining workers. In total, they lifted 700,000 tonnes of steel and installed 525,000 tonnes of pipeline.

Much of the project uses materials supplied by Russian firms. Sakhalin Energy also invested some $600 million to modernise roads, railways, bridges and ports.

More jobs, new hospitals

Shell's workers having lunch

Sakhalin Island was once one of Russia’s worst five regions for unemployment. Now it has one of the lowest jobless rates, thanks in part to jobs created by the construction of the Sakhalin-2 project. Unemployment in early 1999 stood at 6.2%. In January 2011 it was just 1.05%, according to Russia’s Federal Labour Service.

The harbour town of Korsakov experienced years of stagnation until Sakhalin-2 developed the nearby village of Prigorodnoye for oil and LNG exports. Sakhalin Energy contributed $5 million towards building a new outpatient clinic for 200 people in Korsakov.

Sakhalin Energy also supplied five fully equipped ambulances to hospitals in Korsakov, Khomsk, Dolinsk, Poronaisk and Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk.

Buckling up for safer roads

At the peak of construction Sakhalin Energy transported goods and people over some six million kilometres every month. Until several years ago contractors and Sakhalin Energy employees ran a high risk of being injured in traffic accidents. In part this was due to the island’s harsh weather — heavy snow in winter and dust clouds in summer — and poor roads. Bad driving habits among the island’s inhabitants were also a factor.

In 2005, 145 people lost their lives in road accidents on Sakhalin Island. The risk of dying in road accidents was around 10 times higher than in the UK, for example. Few people wore seat belts, drink driving was not uncommon and risky manoeuvres were considered normal.

To counter this situation, Sakhalin Energy launched a wide-ranging long-term road safety programme aimed at workers and the larger Sakhalin community. The Sakhalin Road Safety Council brought together some 30 local organisations, businesses and the police. It included tactics such as changing or introducing new road signs and improving roads at accident blackspots.

A campaign to encourage the use of seat belts — the first of its kind in Russia — included television advertisements and posters. At the same time Russian traffic laws were toughened and police officers cracked down on people failing to wear seat belts. The campaign was held from 2005 till 2009.

Video monitoring showed that the number of people in Sakhalin wearing seat belts rose dramatically from 3% in 2005 to 80% in 2009. Sakhalin Energy received an award for its road safety programmes from the International Energy Institute.