“Community at the Core“
Ensuring lives are enriched
In the two decades it has been operating in the Philippines, Shell Philippines Exploration B.V. (SPEX) has remained committed to not only taking care of the environment as it goes about its business of exploring and producing oil and gas, but also enriching and empowering communities.
With the launch of its Malampaya deep-water gas-to-power project in 2001, one of the largest and most significant industrial endeavours in Philippine history, SPEX’s contribution to community began to increase exponentially. Tapping into indigenous natural gas, Malampaya supplies up to 20% of the country’s electricity needs, sidestepping energy imports and generating revenue for the government to the tune of US$11.9 billion, which ultimately goes to communities. With natural gas fuelling the country, communities now have better air quality, with 30%-50% less greenhouse gasses compared to electricity generated with coal, diesel and fuel oil.
Caring for the community also means providing a safe environment in which to work. For 19 straight years (and counting), the Malampaya onshore gas plant has achieved Goal Zero, which is to say there has been no reportable incidents in areas with the highest risk of hazard, namely personal, process and transport safety. Ensuring a high standard of safety has enabled workers to go home safely to their families every day.
SPEX has treated communities as important stakeholders even before the construction of Malampaya began. Alongside comprehensive environmental and social impact assessments, informal consultations were also held with communities before the construction of a 504-kilometre underwater pipeline that connected the offshore platform to the onshore gas plant. To protect Mindoro island’s rich flora and fauna and safeguard the ancestral lands of indigenous people, the pipeline took a more circuitous route that required an additional 200 kilometres.
Communities have also been empowered with access to sustainable energy. Through its social arm Pilipinas Shell Foundation, SPEX has set up seven microgrids that harness solar, wind and run-of-the-river energies in remote areas in North Palawan, powering over 700 households with more than 2,000 individuals who are not on the government’s priority list for electrification. With a constant flow of electricity, children are able to study at night, use computers at school, focus on their studies and do well in school.
Power to these areas has also increased the productivity of livelihoods. More baskets can now be woven, caught fish can be kept longer in freezers, power tools can be used to construct boats and streets can be well lit. For SPEX, these are gifts that keep on giving.
SPEX has made a big difference in public health as well. In 1999, the Kilusan Ligtas Malaria programme was launched, aiming to make the Philippines malaria-free by 2030. With labs set up to detect malaria, the use of mosquito nets, long-sleeved shirts and trousers, along with the clearing of streams where mosquitos breed, morbidity has been reduced by 91% and mortality by 96% in Palawan.
Educating communities is very much a part of SPEX’s initiatives. Through the Malampaya Foundation, Inc., fishing communities in Palawan have been made aware of the consequences of illegal and overfishing and taught to take the lead in conserving their environment. Through the Mindoro Biodiversity Conservation Foundation, Inc., communities have been taught how to protect habitats and ecosystems. Through Bio-intensive Gardening, communities have been taught the ways of organic farming and environment-friendly practices.
SPEX did not shy away during the COVID-19 lockdowns, either. The Ani Para sa Bayani project assisted farmers by ensuring a steady flow of fresh fruits and vegetables from farms to health frontliners and vulnerable communities.
There is no questioning the commitment of SPEX to its communities. The company is firmly invested in these relationships for the long haul.
“Programmes that uplift communities is not lip service for a company such as Shell Philippines Exploration B.V. (SPEX), which has been engaging communities and improving their lives for decades. The world would be a better place with more companies that are as committed as SPEX.”
Shanggari Balakrishnan, Chief Executive Officer, MORS Group