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UpstreamOnline.com: Building foundations for long-term future

By Upstream staff

Shell-led Salym Petroleum Development (SPD) is set to almost triple its social spending in West Siberia to more than $7 million by 2008, writes Vladimir Afanasiev.

The joint venture has spent about $2.5 million between 2003, when it began pushing ahead with its Salym oilfields project, and 2005.

SPD external affairs manager Elena Zakupneva says the company’s efforts have focused on the village of Salym, which is home to about 5500 people about 30 kilometres from the oil production sites.

The biggest single investment so far has been a $3 million kindergarten for 210 children, which is due to be completed next month.

The joint venture is also planning to invest about $2.5 million to completely overhaul the local hospital, to which it has already donated surgical, diagnostic and other medical equipment.

Zakupneva says that between $1.5 million and $2 million will be spent on helping the Khanty-Mansiysk authorities create an oil history museum.

The autonomous region has been the centre of oil production in West Siberia since the end of the 1960s, hosting one of the world’s largest oilfields, Samotlor, which accounted for one third of the former Soviet Union’s total oil production in the 1980s.

SPD chief executive Dale Rollins says the company “wants to be a good corporate citizen” in the region and spends “a lot of time” on social issues. At the end of May, Rollins attended the ceremony to celebrate the awarding of university scholarships to five secondary school graduates in Salym village, four from the larger School Number 1 and one from the smaller School Number 2, which the company had helped to renovate.

“Several students gave us presentations of why they should win scholarships,” Rollins says. “They were really good. This is one of the purposes of our job here.”

The scholarship will pay the notional $10,000 towards the full five-years of university study, along with any future tuition increases.

The company is also committed to bringing the five winners to their offices in Salym and Moscow.

Other SPD social programmes include mini-loans for the development of medium-sized and small businesses, sponsorship of summer recreation activities for underprivileged children, an anti-drugs campaign and dozens of cultural and sporting events in Salym and other Khanty-Mansiysk areas.

Rollins says the company is also focused on employing Salym residents.

“We are doing our best to raise the standards of living of people in the area where we are working,” he says.

“We are proud to be part of the Khanty-Mansiysk region. We see social activity as part of being a responsible company that is here for a long time. We intend to work here for 40, 50, or 60 years,” he adds.

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