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AME Info: Shell focus on job creation and managing environmental challenges in the Middle East

Royal Dutch Shell Plc underlined its global commitment to sustainable development (SD) initiatives through using international best practice to achieve local solutions at the 2nd Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) conference held today at the JW Marriot in Kuwait City, sponsored by Kuwait Shell Limited.

Speaking on ‘Sustainable Development at the Heart of Shell’s Business – Meeting the Energy Challenge’, Mr Alain Lanckbeen, Middle East Business Relations Advisor, Shell Exploration and Production International, said: ‘The energy challenge referred to in the title of this presentation is not only about producing more energy, but how to deal with the consequences of that production.’

With some 60 per cent of energy consumption in 2050 expected to come from fossil sources, Mr Lanckbeen said that while the largest, most talked about global challenge was climate change, there were other environmental and social challenges and outlined how Shell was dealing with them.

These included: increasing investment in production and refining to meet demand growth; developing substitutes for the transport sector such as gas-to-liquids fuels; developing alternative sources of renewable energy such as solar and wind; managing the impact of greenhouse gas emissions through reduction, clean-burning fuels and researching the capture and storage of CO2; improving environmental and social performance by helping communities through employment and the supply of goods and services; diversifying energy supply; and working with governments, manufacturers and customers on the development of effective carbon trading schemes.

Mr Lanckbeen went on to describe some of the key SD challenges Shell had identified as being particularly pertinent to the Middle East, including: promoting learning and development to facilitate job creation; managing the impact of greenhouse gas emissions; improving resource efficiency; and diversification of energy sources.

Mr Lanckbeen explained how learning and development initiatives had been a strategic focus for Shell in the Middle East for many years. ‘We have expanded our own L & D facilities in the region by creating a regional learning hub in Oman, delivering our global training programmes to regional Shell and JV partners’ staff,’ he said. In addition, Shell had created world-class technology centres aimed at developing research and innovation in two areas of particular relevance to the region – gas-to-liquids in Qatar, and in enhanced oil recovery (EOR) in Oman.

Another example was the Shell LiveWire programme, known throughout the region as Intilaaqah, a social investment initiative designed to encourage entrepreneurship and business skills in young people. Adapted to local country needs, the programme had been implemented successfully in 22 countries around the world including Qatar, Oman, Abu Dhabi, Egypt and Iran. Shell hoped to expand Intilaaqah throughout the Middle East, he said.

Shell is also working on the systematic reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Mr Lanckbeen pointed out that even though the Middle East is not the largest global CO2 producer, the future growth of regional economies would be CO2 intensive. ‘In addition,’ he added, ‘much of the oil produced today from mature fields or from new reservoirs, which are more difficult to develop, need gas injection, commonly described as enhanced oil recovery or EOR.’

Shell was developing a CO2 vision for the Middle East, he said, in which carbon dioxide from power plants and other heavy industries would be captured and used in EOR projects in the region. ‘This is where an issue becomes an opportunity,’ said Mr Lanckbeen. ‘CO2 can be re-injected into an oil reservoir and used as a flow enhancer and be sequestered at the same time,’ he said.

A further issue turned to potential opportunity being investigated by Shell lies in waste products such as sulphur and excess water produced with oil. Although at an early trial stage, Mr Lanckbeen said these techniques: ‘Could represent an attractive economic opportunity and a solution to a sustainable development challenge linked to fossil fuel production.’

Equally important was the R&D effort Shell was making into the diversification of energy sources for the long-term, said Mr Lanckbeen. These included clean-burning fuels from Gas to Liquids and those derived from biomass as well as solar energy, all of which could play a bigger role in the region in the future.

But companies like Shell would not be able to succeed on their own, concluded Mr Lanckbeen. ‘We will be looking at key stakeholders such as governments, academia, other industry players and local communities throughout the region to form long-term partnerships, in order to tackle these challenges.’

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