A map displaying the Sichuan province and its position in China with Hong Kong, Beijing and Shanghai also displayed

After Shell’s 2016 decision to exit the Jinqiu tight gas exploration project in the Sichuan province, southwest China, the company worked to safely restore the area used for drilling wells.

The land was turned into productive arable fields for the neighbouring community. Project materials were also recycled to pave a local road and build eight irrigation systems.

Restoration in this way is an important part of our decommissioning work when a project reaches the end of its lifecycle.

Restoring the land

Shell started to drill appraisal wells in Jinqiu back in 2010, but decided to exit six years later due to challenging geology.

“Villagers living around our well site were not concerned whether the well was technically or economically successful,” says Bill Li, who led Shell’s work with the community in Jinqiu. “What was important to them was they could harvest again from the land that would be returned.”

After extensive consultation with land owners and local authorities on how best to restore the site, Shell began by planting vegetables, including green beans. The roots of the beans lock nitrogen in the soil to increase the fertility of land. This helped the local population - made up mainly of elderly people, women and children – to more easily reap an early harvest.

We also reused top soil from ponds dug for fish farming, an additional source of income for villagers.