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Arctic exploration and production
Energy companies first started working in the Arctic around a century ago, but most of the Arctic’s resources have yet to be explored. Today’s renewed interest demands a responsible approach to the unique environment and local communities, using technologies and approaches that limit impact to both and maximise benefits to local communities.
Arctic conditions can be harsh: remoteness, sea ice, very low temperatures and long periods of darkness in winter all pose challenges. Shell has developed a range of technologies to produce oil and gas safely in the Arctic environment.
Shell uses mobile drilling rigs, allowing us to move operations more easily from location to location once drilling is complete. Mobile rigs also allow crews to move off the well in the event of ice incursion. In the Arctic, we undertake drilling programmes only during the relatively ice-free periods of summer and autumn, in accordance with regulatory requirements in Alaska, Greenland, Russia and Norway. We use specially designed vessels to manage ice in all forms and sizes.
We take extra precautions to work safely in Arctic conditions, including a disciplined use of prevention barriers, risk management application of proven technology to prevent oil spills, and measures to minimise harm to marine resources.
Building a platform for Arctic conditions
Aerial view of a platform at Sakhalin-2 in the far east of Russia.
Platforms in the Arctic are subjected to intense pressure from floating ice sheets. Shell has adapted its platforms to meet these challenges – for example, by modifying their shape or reinforcing the legs – and tested their strength.
At our Sakhalin oil and gas project, for example, platforms have giant concrete legs 20 m across and 50 m tall. The legs’ rounded shape helps guide ice floes safely around the platform.