Mars B Contributes to Communities
Jan 27, 2014
Recycling oyster shells into protective reefs; restoring island nesting habitats for birds; updating a local baseball field for children with disabilities. These are just a few of the social and environmental programs put into place by the Shell Mars B development.
As part of the development’s budgeting process, Shell dedicated $5 million to multiple initiatives benefiting communities on the US Gulf Coast - as well as in South Korea, where the big, four-column hull of the Olympus platform was built.
“We live and work in the communities throughout the various construction stages of the project, and our team personally connects with the community during this time. I wanted to find a way for the Mars B project to contribute to the communities and environment that would provide a foundation for long term sustainability,” said Derek Newberry, the Shell Mars B Business Opportunity Manager.
Work teams in Korea and on the Texas and south Louisiana coasts all had major roles in building Olympus. They decided how much of the community improvement money would be spent. The Texas team in Corpus Christi built new facilities for CASA Coastal Bend – a home for neglected and abused foster children.
“Shell employees really cared about our project, beyond the money,” said CASA officer Bert Quintanilla. “They gave a lot of their time as volunteers, and keep giving. You don’t see that very often in corporate partners. It’s very rare.”
The Texas team also rebuilt sports facilities for disabled children, funded a major beach cleanup and the restoration of a critical shore bird habitat on an island in Corpus Christi bay.
Half a world away, in South Korea, the team that built Olympus’ floating hull chose the nearby Sungrowon Orphanage, which is home to approximately 55 children. Their first purchase was a new van to transport children safely.
They also funded a new library and volunteered their time so more children can benefit from enrichment programs it offers. Shell’s Mike Ubl is a volunteer: “Working with the children warms you all the way through. I love it,” he said. “I’m proud that Shell is always willing to go the extra mile to leave a place better than we found it.”
Shell employees also allotted funds for student scholarships in South Korea through the Partners for Future Foundation.
A major gift from the south Louisiana Shell team established the Bayou Country Children’s Museum dedicated to preserving and teaching the area’s Cajun culture through play and other hands-on activities.
Other Mars B service efforts will restore Louisiana coastal wetlands and shore bird habitats. One program recovers oyster shells from restaurants and packs them in wire mesh bundles. Anchored in coastal shallows, they form the building blocks for new oyster reefs as natural erosion barriers. An anti-flooding road elevation project connecting critical offshore support communities to the rest of the state is also getting help from the Louisiana team.
“It isn’t about just giving money,” Newberry said. “It’s fundamentally about providing mutually beneficial support that allows these projects to continue to give back to the communities for years to come.”
In making Shell a part of its communities and listening to our neighbors, our offshore projects become a valued and trusted presence, even though they are miles out at sea.