Breathing new life into local communities
The north-west coast of Norway built its economy on fishing and shipping. After traditional industries fell into decline, the construction of a new gas processing plant brought welcome skills and jobs to many residents and a boost to nearby businesses.
Britt Flo lives in the town of Molde, where she runs the local business association. She saw first-hand how a project to unlock natural gas from deep below the sea and process it on shore brought new jobs and opportunities to the region.
“The Ormen Lange deep-water project and Nyhamna processing plant have been important for business growth,” she says.
The offshore gas field development and onshore plant, which began operating in 2007, generated jobs and work for local businesses, ranging from mechanics to tool suppliers. It also encourages new industries in the region, such as companies specialising in site safety.
Shell is keen to employ people who live within an hour’s commute of Nyhamna. This encourages them to settle locally, supporting the economy. Nearly all of Shell’s operations staff at Nyhamna live in the immediate area.
Shell has worked closely with businesses in the region, helping them meet the company’s standards and bid for work at Nyhamna.
“Adapting to Shell standards also helps them to win contracts with other companies,” says operations manager Tor Bjerkestrand.
Shell has also encouraged contractor companies working at Nyhamna to hire locally and set up local offices for big projects. Being nearby allows them to respond quickly to changing needs.
The approach brings its own rewards. One example was when an exceptionally long spell of freezing weather brought the plant to a halt in 2011.
“A local supplier was quickly on site with the right equipment to help us solve the situation, instead of having to wait for people outside of the region and remote equipment,” says Bjerkestrand. “It saved us time and helped us resume gas supplies quickly.”
Tor Thorsrud Sporsem, 23, is an engineering student at the University of Trondheim. In 2011 he became an apprentice at Nyhamna, 1.5 kilometres (1 mile) from his home in Aukra.
“After working at the plant in the day, I followed lectures online in the evening,” he says. “I got to put theory into practice and had an income to help support my studies.”
As an apprentice, Sporsem experienced a range of roles and operations which helped him to think about his future career.
“The knowledge and skills I gained were invaluable,” he says.
Over the years, Shell has received wide recognition in Norway for the way it helps to provide training and generate business locally.
“Ormen Lange and Nyhamna symbolise how significant the technological part of the petroleum sector is to the development of the supplier industry,” says Gerd Kristiansen, leader of Norway’s biggest labour union.
Welcoming a new neighbour
When plans to build at Nyhamna were revealed, competition between municipalities to host it was fierce.
“Some people were afraid of what it would entail, as no one knew anything about the gas industry,” says Bernhard Riksfjord, mayor of Aukra. “But now I think everyone is pleased.”
In addition to revenue from operations, property tax paid by the plant has funded an airport expansion in nearby Molde, a road tunnel, a new school, and a community centre.
Elisabeth Eikrem Førde is among people in surrounding communities whose jobs were created as a result of the project. She has lived her whole life in Aukra and now works as a lab technician at Nyhamna, checking that water discharged from the site meets government standards.
“It was a vital uplift as the shipping and salmon industries had declined,” she says.
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Read key facts about the Ormen Lange project and find out about its history, the technology used, and Shell’s environmental approach.
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Shell has a long history of developing energy projects using its knowledge, experience and proven deep-water technologies to unlock new resources safely and efficiently. Read more about Shell’s deep-water work around the world.