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Arctic exploration and production
Energy companies first started activities in the Arctic around a century ago. But most of the Arctic’s resources remain unexplored. Today there is renewed interest but the unique environment and the region’s local communities demand a responsible approach and technologies that limit environmental and social impact.
The Arctic presents harsh physical conditions: remoteness, ice, extreme low temperatures, and in winter long periods of darkness. Shell has developed a range of technologies to produce oil and gas in this region and to meet social and environmental challenges.
Moving between locations to drill, we use mobile drilling rigs so that operations can move more easily to new locations once drilling is complete. The ice poses challenges when present. We use specially designed vessels to manage the ice and protect our drilling ships.
We take extra precautions to work safely in Arctic conditions, for example by using extra barriers to prevent oil spills.
Platforms in the ice
Aerial view of a platform at Sakhalin 2 in Russia’s far east.
Floating sheets of ice exert extreme pressure on platforms. To overcome this we use reinforced platforms: at our Sakhalin oil and gas project, for example, the platforms have giant concrete legs around 20m across and 50m tall. The rounded shape of the legs helps ice floes slide around them.
Building a platform for Arctic conditions
Platforms in the Arctic are subjected to the intense pressure of floating sheets of ice. Shell has adapted its platforms – for example by modifying their shape or reinforcing the legs – and tested their strength.