Gulsym Nazarova, a teacher, is excited about the prospect of decorating her brand-new home in Araltal, northwestern Kazakhstan. “Twenty years ago, I couldn’t even imagine having my own house,” she says, imagining the curtains and lights she will install when she finally settles in.

Nazarova is among 464 families who are being resettled from the villages of Berezovka and Bestau in northwest Kazakhstan after the government’s decision to expand a safety perimeter around the nearby Karachaganak oil and gas field.

As a partner in the Karachaganak Petroleum Operating BV consortium (KPO), Shell is part of the group helping villagers like Nazarova to resettle.

Ensuring safety

When resettlement is unavoidable, Shell works closely with local communities to help them relocate with a view to maintaining or improving their standard of living in line with international best practice. Shell’s resettlement work is a crucial part of its core commitment of working without causing harm to people or the environment.

The resettlement in Kazakhstan is being led by the regional government and funded by KPO. In late 2015 the first 82 households were successfully resettled. Now the remaining 373 households are moving from Berezovka, which has been in slow decline since the break-up of the Soviet Union.

“Some of the closer villages in the original safety perimeter relocated years ago, but with the expansion of this perimeter more villages were affected,” says Martin Rhodes, KPO’s Plant manager.

KPO’s operators, including Shell, recognise the economic value of the site to the wider region. The field contains 1.2 billion tons of oil and gas condensate and more than 1.35 trillion cubic metres of gas, making it one of the largest oil and gas deposits in the world.

Every contractor related to KPO’s operations must meet the consortium’s high health, safety and environmental standards with KPO providing training support to contractors.