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New oil spill containment system to protect Gulf of Mexico planned by major oil companies

A plan to build and deploy a rapid response system that will be available to capture and contain oil in the event of a potential future underwater well blowout in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico was announced today by Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil and Shell.

The new system will be flexible, adaptable and able to begin mobilization within 24 hours and can be used on a wide range of well designs and equipment, oil and natural gas flow rates and weather conditions. The new system will be engineered to be used in deepwater depths up to 10,000 feet and have initial capacity to contain 100,000 barrels per day with potential for expansion.

The companies have committed $1 billion to fund the initial costs of the system. Additional operational and maintenance costs for the subsea and modular processing equipment, contracts with existing operating vessels in the Gulf of Mexico and any potential new vessels that may be constructed will increase this cost commitment.

This system offers key advantages to the current response equipment in that it will be pre-engineered, constructed, tested and ready for rapid deployment in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico. It is being developed by a team of marine, subsea and construction engineers from the four companies.

The system will include specially designed subsea containment equipment connected by manifolds, jumpers and risers to capture vessels that will store and offload the oil. Dedicated crews will ensure regular maintenance, inspection and readiness of the facilities and subsea equipment.

The four companies will form a non-profit organization, the Marine Well Containment Company, to operate and maintain this system. Other companies will be invited and encouraged to participate in this organization.

Work on this new containment system is being accelerated to enhance deepwater safety and environmental protection in the Gulf of Mexico, which accounts for 30 percent of U.S. oil and gas production and supports more than 170,000 American jobs. 

The sponsor companies will proceed immediately with the engineering, procurement and construction of equipment and vessels for the system.  ExxonMobil will lead this effort on behalf of the four sponsor companies. 

The companies are also actively involved in significant industry efforts to improve prevention, well intervention and spill response. This includes rig inspections and implementation of new requirements on blowout preventer certification and well design. The industry has proactively formed several multi-disciplinary task forces to further develop improved prevention, containment and recovery plans.

The companies have reviewed the system with key officials in the federal Administration and Congress and will conduct briefings with other key stakeholders.

Statements from the sponsor companies:

Chevron
“Chevron knows that it can only operate with the public’s confidence that the energy we need will be produced safely and reliably,” said John Watson, chairman and chief executive officer of Chevron. “We are committed to advancing safe operations through enhanced prevention, better well containment and intervention and improved spill response. This new system significantly enhances the industry’s ability to effectively respond to any unforeseen incidents.”

ConocoPhillips
"The oil and gas industry has long been recognized as a technological leader, and the American public expects us to improve our ability to respond immediately to offshore incidents," said Jim Mulva, ConocoPhillips chairman and chief executive officer. "The creation and development of this sophisticated system will greatly enhance industry's ability to ensure a quick and effective response."

ExxonMobil
“If we all do our jobs properly, this system will never be used,” said Rex Tillerson, chairman and chief executive officer of ExxonMobil. “The extensive experience of industry shows that when the focus remains on safe operations and risk management, tragic incidents like the one we are witnessing in the Gulf of Mexico today should not occur.”

Shell
“As an industry, we must rebuild trust with the American people in order to demonstrate that we can produce energy in a safe and environmentally responsible manner,” said Marvin Odum, president, Shell Oil Company. “Beyond Shell’s absolute commitment to oil spill prevention and robust well designs, additional safeguards must be strengthened across the industry to develop the capacity to quickly respond and resolve a deepwater well blowout in the Gulf of Mexico, regardless of how unlikely it is that this situation will reoccur.”

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Media contacts

Margaret Cooper (Chevron)  281-222-4103
margaretcooper@chevron.com 

Cathy Cram (ConocoPhillips)  281-736-2870
cathy.m.cram@conocophillips.com 

Karen Matusic (ExxonMobil))  972-322-2709
karen.p.matusic@exxonmobil.com 

Bill Tanner (Shell)    713 241-4544
bill.tanner@shell.com 

Cautionary note

The companies in which Royal Dutch Shell plc directly and indirectly owns investments are separate entities. In this press release “Shell”, “Shell group” and “Royal Dutch Shell” are sometimes used for convenience where references are made to Royal Dutch Shell plc and its subsidiaries in general. Likewise, the words “we”, “us” and “our” are also used to refer to subsidiaries in general or to those who work for them. These expressions are also used where no useful purpose is served by identifying the particular company or companies. ‘‘Subsidiaries’’, “Shell subsidiaries” and “Shell companies” as used in this press release refer to companies in which Royal Dutch Shell either directly or indirectly has control, by having either a majority of the voting rights or the right to exercise a controlling influence. The companies in which Shell has significant influence but not control are referred to as “associated companies” or “associates” and companies in which Shell has joint control are referred to as “jointly controlled entities”. In this press release, associates and jointly controlled entities are also referred to as “equity-accounted investments”. The term “Shell interest” is used for convenience to indicate the direct and/or indirect (for example, through our 34% shareholding in Woodside Petroleum Ltd.) ownership interest held by Shell in a venture, partnership or company, after exclusion of all third-party interest.

This press release contains forward-looking statements concerning the financial condition, results of operations and businesses of Royal Dutch Shell. All statements other than statements of historical fact are, or may be deemed to be, forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements are statements of future expectations that are based on management’s current expectations and assumptions and involve known and unknown risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results, performance or events to differ materially from those expressed or implied in these statements. Forward-looking statements include, among other things, statements concerning the potential exposure of Royal Dutch Shell to market risks and statements expressing management’s expectations, beliefs, estimates, forecasts, projections and assumptions. These forward-looking statements are identified by their use of terms and phrases such as ‘‘anticipate’’, ‘‘believe’’, ‘‘could’’, ‘‘estimate’’, ‘‘expect’’, ‘‘intend’’, ‘‘may’’, ‘‘plan’’, ‘‘objectives’’, ‘‘outlook’’, ‘‘probably’’, ‘‘project’’, ‘‘will’’, ‘‘seek’’, ‘‘target’’, ‘‘risks’’, ‘‘goals’’, ‘‘should’’ and similar terms and phrases. There are a number of factors that could affect the future operations of Royal Dutch Shell and could cause those results to differ materially from those expressed in the forward-looking statements included in this press release, including (without limitation): (a) price fluctuations in crude oil and natural gas; (b) changes in demand for the Shell’s products; (c) currency fluctuations; (d) drilling and production results; (e) reserve estimates; (f) loss of market share and industry competition; (g) environmental and physical risks; (h) risks associated with the identification of suitable potential acquisition properties and targets, and successful negotiation and completion of such transactions; (i) the risk of doing business in developing countries and countries subject to international sanctions; (j) legislative, fiscal and regulatory developments including regulatory measures addressing climate change; (k) economic and financial market conditions in various countries and regions; (l) political risks, including the risks of expropriation and renegotiation of the terms of contracts with governmental entities, delays or advancements in the approval of projects and delays in the reimbursement for shared costs; and (m) changes in trading conditions. All forward-looking statements contained in this press release are expressly qualified in their entirety by the cautionary statements contained or referred to in this section. Readers should not place undue reliance on forward-looking statements. Additional factors that may affect future results are contained in Royal Dutch Shell’s 20-F for the year ended December 31, 2009 (available at www.shell.com/investor  and www.sec.gov ). These factors also should be considered by the reader.  Each forward-looking statement speaks only as of the date of this press release, 22 July 2010. Neither Royal Dutch Shell nor any of its subsidiaries undertake any obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statement as a result of new information, future events or other information. In light of these risks, results could differ materially from those stated, implied or inferred from the forward-looking statements contained in this press release.

The United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) permits oil and gas companies, in their filings with the SEC, to disclose only proved reserves that a company has demonstrated by actual production or conclusive formation tests to be economically and legally producible under existing economic and operating conditions.  We may have used certain terms in this press release that SEC's guidelines strictly prohibit us from including in filings with the SEC.  U.S. Investors are urged to consider closely the disclosure in our Form 20-F, File No 1-32575, available on the SEC website www.sec.gov . You can also obtain these forms from the SEC by calling 1-800-SEC-0330.