Over the last few years Dawson Creek, in British Columbia, Canada, has moved from its traditional reliance on farming and ranching to include benefits from the oil and gas industry. Around 50 kilometres (30 miles) away, for example, a major resource of natural gas lies underground at Shell’s Groundbirch project.

When Shell engineers planned to tap it by drilling many new wells they knew it would require a lot of water. In an area prone to water shortages, they needed to avoid drawing on fresh water.

Shell teamed up with the city’s council in a special agreement to build a waste-water plant at the local sewage treatment area.

The plant uses man-made technology and natural bacteria to help clean up water that would otherwise be discharged into a local river.

Some of the treated water is reserved for Dawson Creek and can be used to irrigate public parks and sport fields.

A large volume is delivered through a 48-kilometre (29-mile) pipeline to the Groundbirch gas field, where it is pumped at high pressure into wells to help release natural gas. This virtually eliminates the need to draw on fresh water for Shell’s natural gas operations.

The pipeline reduces the need for tanker trucks, cutting down on noise and dust and making roads safer. The city also supplies this treated water to other operators in the area, resulting in greater operational sustainability and an improved environmental outcome for our entire industry.

More in Sustainability


We are focusing on using water more efficiently across our activities.


As part of our Respecting Nature goal, we have set an ambition to have a positive impact on biodiversity. Two of the UN Sustainable Development Goals focus on this area: SDG 14 Life below water and SDG 15 Life on land.

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