2017 is an important year for Shell in Russia.
Exactly 125 years ago, in August 1892, the world's first bulk oil tanker crossed the Black Sea loaded with Russian kerosene and headed to Singapore.
From that promising start, great things came.
In 1910, Royal Dutch Shell acquired its first concession for the development of Russian oil fields and moved into the large-scale production of crude oil. Gradually, Shell became the leading producer of oil in the Caucasus and beyond. By 1917, Shell produced 22% of the oil in Russia. So it was that from Russia, and in collaboration with Russia, that Shell first emerged as a major oil company.
The history of the 20th Century was not easy for Russia, and nor was it easy for Shell in Russia. By the end of 1917, the revolution and civil war had halted most activity at most oil fields. In 1918, the country’s oil sector was nationalised, including the assets of the Shell Group.
During the dreadful years of the Second World War, the relationship with Shell turned a new leaf. Allied naval convoys made up of Shell tankers delivered fuel and petroleum products to Soviet ports. In 1983, Shell was glad to open a representative office in Moscow. In the early 1990s, the company came back to Russia with major oil and gas projects.
Today Shell is rightly proud of the work it does alongside Russian partners in the modern Russia. Shell participates in the Sakhalin 2 project – which is the only liquefied natural gas project in the country. Together with our Russian partners and contractors, Shell is using state-of-the-art oil and gas drilling and production technologies and enhanced oil recovery methods. These ensure both Russia and Shell get the greatest value from the resources we produce together.
And 2017 is not just an important year for Shell in Russia because of all we have already achieved together. It is important as the starting place for everything that is still to come.
We are celebrating just the first 125 years of our operations in Russia, I hope.
Shell is confident that gas is an essential source of energy for the coming decades. This firm belief is yet another bond uniting us with our Russian partners.
And the many bonds between Shell and Russia have strengthened our partnership over time. The bonds of history and of collaboration have, over the years, matured into a mutual trust. Shell deeply values the trust of the government of the Russian Federation and the captains of the Russian oil and gas industry.
This trust can be seen in Shell’s long-standing and successful work with our strategic partner Gazprom. It is visible in our cooperation with Gazprom Neft, with Sovcomflot and with other leading Russian oil and gas companies and services. We have also established strong relations with the Gubkin Russian State University of Oil and Gas and the Bolshoi Theater.
And none of those achievements, none of the success Shell has enjoyed in Russia over the last 125 years, would have been possible without the outstanding work and remarkable commitment shown by thousands of Russian employees.
Russia and its people are a significant part of Shell’s history. Shell has played its own part in Russia’s history. Together, Russia and Shell have the strongest of foundations on which to build a great future together.
by Ben van Beurden, CEO, Royal Dutch Shell plc.