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Shell is assessing opportunities to explore in Alaska, Greenland, Norway and Russia, building on decades of experience in challenging environments like the Arctic and subarctic.

The Arctic’s remoteness, extreme climatic and physical conditions and sensitive environment require extraordinary precautions, as do the livelihoods of indigenous peoples who depend on its rich ecosystem.

We owe it to the Arctic, its inhabitants, and the world to work with great care as we search for oil and gas resources and develop those at the request of governments across the region. In doing so, we aim to safely unlock energy vital to help meet growing demand in Arctic countries, and across the world.

Our major Arctic and subarctic projects

We currently have a growing portfolio of projects located in the Arctic and subarctic.

In Alaska, we are undertaking a multi-year programme to assess the oil and gas resources in our leases located in the Chukchi Sea.

We are also in the very early stages of exploration programmes in Greenland and Norway, working with several energy partners to explore the oil and gas potential of offshore leases.

In Russia’s subarctic, together with our partners in the Sakhalin Energy Investment Company, we produce large quantities of oil, condensate and liquefied natural gas from the Sakhalin-2 project.


Shell’s history in Alaska dates back to 1918. We operated there continuously from the mid-1960s until 1998. We also safely drilled many exploratory wells in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas in the 1980s and 1990s.

In 2005, Shell re-entered Alaska, acquiring leases in the Beaufort Sea. We later acquired additional leases in the Chukchi Sea.

We have been working to develop a more thorough understanding of the environment, supporting major scientific studies, in anticipation of exploration work in our Chukchi and Beaufort leases. We have also been building relationships with local communities, aiming to bring economic expansion and new opportunities to Alaskans.


Shell is in the very early stages of exploration in Greenland’s offshore. In December 2010, we formed a joint venture with ENGIE (formerly GDF SUEZ), Statoil, and Greenland national oil company Nunaoil, which successfully bid for two licence blocks in Baffin Bay off the north-west Greenland coast. Shell acquired additional exploration acreage in north-east Greenland in late 2013 in a joint venture with Chevron as the operator, as well as GreenPeX and Nunaoil.


Shell wishes to maintain a long-term presence in Russia, a country offering important opportunities for new energy development.

We partner with Gazprom in the Sakhalin Energy joint venture which operates the subarctic Sakhalin-2 oil and gas project. Sakhalin-2 LNG began operations in February 2009, providing more than 4% of global liquefied natural gas (LNG) supplies today. The LNG plant has produced more than 50 million tonnes of LNG since early 2014. A feasibility study to expand the Sakhalin-2 project is underway.

We are assessing potential opportunities to extend our collaboration with Gazprom in the future.


We have played a major role in developing Norway’s energy resources in the past 100 years. In 2013, Norske Shell was awarded new acreage off the Norwegian coast in the Barents Sea, comprising 10 blocks in two large licences – one of which we will operate. We are working to expand our operations off the Norwegian coast, where early exploration appraisal work is under way.

Working with others

Shell works in strategic collaboration with scientific institutions and selected NGOs around the world to gain access to independent scientific expertise. This helps us to reduce the environmental impact of our operations and projects worldwide.

Strategic collaboration helps us advance new standards and best practices in a wide range of areas: biodiversity, ecology, marine sound, oil spill prevention and response, safety and health, and working with indigenous peoples.

  • North Slope Borough and Northwest Arctic Borough baseline studies – In 2010 Shell and the North Slope Borough agreed to establish and operate a community-based research programme. Shell signed a similar agreement with the Northwest Arctic Borough in 2013. The two programmes work together to investigate the Arctic environment and relevant impacts from industry operations. They take full account of traditional ecological knowledge.  
  • NOAA data-sharing agreement and other collaborations – From ice and weather to ecological studies, data gathered by Shell-sponsored programmes represent a significant asset in the scientific understanding of the Arctic. In 2011 Shell, ConocoPhillips, and Statoil signed an agreement with a US federal agency, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), to share data from a number of industry-sponsored investigative programmes. The agreement makes data available not only to NOAA signatories but also to the larger scientific community. Data-sharing has already improved Arctic ice and weather forecasting and helped improve collaboration between scientists.  
  • Read more about the Chukchi Sea Environmental Studies Programme (CSESP) between Shell, ConocoPhillips and Statoil: www.chukchiscience.com.

In addition to data-sharing, Shell has worked collaboratively with a broad array of research institutions and governmental resource agencies to enhance studies and increase scientific output. 

We also partner with numerous industry participants and industry associations to enhance our Arctic capabilities, including oil spill response efforts in ice.

We pursue collaborations with industry, NGOs, governments and other stakeholders that offer a balance of independence, knowledge, credibility and authority. In this way, we can receive the best available advice on operating in environmentally sensitive areas like the Arctic. This helps us to identify environmental risks early in the design of projects and receive practical advice to mitigate and manage any impacts.

Learning more about the Arctic’s changing environment

Shell takes a range of approaches to gather further information on the Arctic environment. This information helps us to guide our operations and limit their impacts, such as determining where to lay pipelines.

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