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Our five aspirational operating principles focus on safety, environmental safeguards, and engagement with nearby communities to address concerns and help develop local economies. We are working towards making all of our Shell-operated onshore projects where hydraulic fracturing is used, to produce gas and oil from tight sandstone or shale, consistent with these principles.

We consider each project – from the geology to the surrounding environment and communities – and design our activities using technology and innovative approaches best suited to local conditions.  We also support government regulations consistent with these principles that are designed to reduce risks to the environment and keep those living near operations safe.

Learn about how we use the principles for projects we buy and projects where Shell is involved, but not the operator, in the full principles guide.


Our five principles are:

Principle 1: SAFETY

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Shell designs, constructs and operates wells and facilities in a safe and responsible way. 

EXAMPLE IN PRACTICE: We install multiple layers of steel pipe and cement to isolate the gas or oil in the well from drinkable groundwater. Before we hydraulically fracture, we first test the well under pressure for wellbore integrity.

Principle 2: WATER

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Shell conducts its operations in a manner that protects groundwater and reduces potable water use as reasonably practicable.

EXAMPLE IN PRACTICE: At our Groundbirch project in Canada, we teamed up with a town council in a special agreement to build a waste-water plant at the local sewage treatment area. The recycled water is used in our operations and may be used by the City of Dawson Creek, for example to irrigate public parks and sport fields.

Principle 3: AIR

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Shell conducts its operations in a manner that protects air quality and controls fugitive emissions as reasonably practicable. 

EXAMPLE IN PRACTICE: At our Pinedale operations in Wyoming, USA, we adapted catalyst technology used in diesel cars and power plants to reduce emissions from the drilling rig by more than 90%.

Principle 4: FOOTPRINT

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Shell works to reduce its operational footprint. 

EXAMPLE IN PRACTICE: At our Pinedale operations we take steps to restore the land once we’ve finished drilling in a particular area. We worked with the US Bureau of Land Management to improve restoration practices.  This included planting a mix of seed to match the surrounding vegetation and speed up the reintroduction of sage brush, the staple diet of sage grouse, pronghorn and mule deer.

Principle 5: COMMUNITY

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Shell engages with local communities regarding socio-economic impacts that may arise from its operations.

EXAMPLE IN PRACTICE: In China’s Shanxi Province, where we produce gas at the Changbei field, we funded the construction of 240 underground water-storage tanks and 12 water-pumping stations, providing almost 3,000 people with better access to drinking water.