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We aim to encourage economic and social development while reducing any negative impact of our operations. The benefits we bring to local people can include jobs, capacity building, technology, contracting and business opportunities and social investment.

We work to manage any negative effect on the culture, livelihood, health, safety, lifestyle, security and economic development of communities.


Benefits for local people

Our operations sometimes require temporary or permanent access to areas of land or sea where people are living or working. In some cases projects may require relocating and resettling communities. We help such communities restore their standard of living and livelihoods.


Our operations can affect the health of local communities. Building facilities can, for example, create mosquito-breeding areas and increase exposure to malaria.

Migrant workers may introduce new diseases or sexually transmitted viruses such as HIV/AIDS.

Read about our approach to HIV/AIDS.

Local air and water emissions could also pose a risk to public health or damage food stocks by affecting farming and fishing.

We carry out environmental, social and health impact assessments prior to any activity, as well as considering the opinions and concerns of the local community.

At our refinery and chemicals plant in Norco, Louisiana, for example, we set up an air monitoring working group with members of the community and government.

The group designed and implemented an air monitoring system regularly update and share their findings.


Communities living close to our operations, especially refineries, often have concerns over safety aspects of the facilities. To reassure them we communicate openly on our safety plans and emergency procedures.

Increased traffic during project construction raises the chance of road accidents. We work in partnership with international agencies, companies and governments to improve road safety.

Cultural and community lifestyle

Our operations in some areas may disrupt local traditions, cultures and values. Workers from other regions or countries often move into an area, bringing more wealth, a new monetary system and they may push up the cost of living.

At our Athabasca Oil Sands Project in Canada, for example, we work closely with the local community and involve residents in decisions that affect them. We aim to bring mutual benefits, including help for the community to bid competitively for project work.

At all of our refineries and chemical plants we meet regularly with community members and at many locations we conduct a residents’ survey every few years. At our refinery in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Shell volunteers became involved in community projects to understand local needs and offer business know-how.

Security, conflict and violence

During the construction phase a project can attract people wanting to benefit illegally, for example through extortion or theft. The security needed at facilities can intimidate local communities.

To help overcome this we have a company-wide security standard that defines how we protect our people and facilities while respecting human rights.

Economic development

When we produce oil and gas we often generate wealth in a region. But this can push up the costs of housing and services and threaten traditional livelihoods such as farming.

To help everyone in the local communities to benefit we provide education and training, buy and hire locally and invest around our operations.

We pay royalties and taxes to host country governments and encourage them to use the funds effectively.

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Shell Sustainability Report 2014

Read three case studies on our interaction with local communities in the Shell Sustainability Report 2014.