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Working with local communities
Oil and gas production from deep water can boost economic growth and benefit communities on shore. But communities can often have concerns about the potential impact of operations on their way of life.
The Rasa community lies on the coast of the Campos Basin, Rio De Janeiro State, Brazil. It is home to many families whose relatives have lived there for over 100 years.
“Historically many of these people were exploited,” says Marta da Costa C. de Andrade, a local teacher. Like others, she wondered what the impact would be of the oil and gas development out at sea in the Campos Basin, home to deep-water projects including Shell’s Parque das Conchas.
Listen and respond
Esteridio Gonzaga shows some of his sea cucumber harvest in Palawan, the Philippines
We held community meetings to discuss and answer questions. This included helping local fishermen understand our safety measures, such as the seclusion zones around our platforms.
Unemployment is common among some indigenous people in the region. To help increase their chances of finding a job, we launched training courses chosen by them. These include English, computer skills, cookery and tourism, as well as others directly related to our industry such as mechanics. Around 600 people will benefit from this training.
“This has helped strengthen communities,” says Marta. “Now indigenous people benefit through these courses.”
Similarly, local communities in the Philippines raised concerns over our deep-water operations close to the island of Palawan. Before we laid a pipeline to transport oil and natural gas from our Malampaya platform to an onshore plant, we held public meetings and provided information to the residents on nearby Mindoro. As a result, we rerouted the pipeline to conserve Mindoro’s biodiversity and ensured it avoided sacred ancestral burial waters.
We also worked to tackle unemployment in the region, for example by running training programmes. “I learned how to cultivate and export sea cucumbers,” says Esteridio Gonzaga. Our training has helped local people get jobs on the Malampaya project.
Boosting job opportunities
High unemployment is also a problem in Nigeria. The Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company Limited (SNEPCo) Bonga deep-water project, 120 km (75 miles) off the coast in the Gulf of Guinea, is helping. Moored in over a kilometre of water, a giant floating production, storage and offloading vessel receives crude from production wells on the seabed.
The project helped create the first generation of Nigerian oil and gas engineers with deep-water experience. Around 90% of the field’s workforce is Nigerian. Bonga has stimulated the growth of support industries vital to offshore deep-water projects, requiring goods and services, such as boats, materials and ships like floating hotels.
As part of our community investment for the Gumusut-Kakap project, we run a university scholarship scheme. This provides funding to high-achieving students and so far benefited over 2,000 young Malaysians. “This is a dream come true,” says 19-year-old Elyana Naumi Ambu. “I am now able to pursue a course in mineral source engineering at a local university.”
We also support a training scheme, together with local authorities in Miri and Bintulu, to qualify much-needed welders for the oil and gas industry.
The Movement Against Malaria encourages people in Palawan to sleep under mosquito nets
Communities close to our operations have very different needs. At our Malampaya project, over time we learned what residents most wanted – to eliminate malaria from their villages. The Pilipinas Shell Foundation launched the Kilusan Ligtas Malaria (Movement Against Malaria) social investment programme in 1999. Since the programme started, it has helped reduce malaria deaths in Palawan by nearly 97%, from around 99 a year to three in 2013.
Residents along the Gulf of Mexico coast, for example, have other concerns. Every year brings a storm season to the Gulf Coast: these extreme storms and powerful hurricanes have claimed thousands of lives and devastated homes and businesses.
Following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005, we donated $3 million to help with relief efforts. Shell employees contributed up to another $1 million. We also provided fuel for emergency services and volunteers helped with activities on the ground. Hurricane Sandy struck the north-east coast of the USA in 2012 and we again supported emergency relief programmes.