Shell has an 80% working interest in Groundbirch which produces approximately 500 million standard cubic feet per day of natural gas from the Montney formation and has an expected field life of more than 35 years.

Shell acquired the Groundbirch assets in 2008. Since then, the business has grown significantly in scale and developed into a successful asset for Shell. Today, Groundbirch has more than 500 producing wells and four gas plants along with the associated infrastructure, and a reputation within Shell for delivering consistent performance and process improvements.

Read more about Groundbirch developments and learn fast facts:


The natural gas produced from the Montney formation is situated 2,500 metres below ground, trapped within a mixture of siltstone and shale. We use hydraulic fracturing, creating hairline cracks to unlock the natural gas that’s tightly trapped in the tiny pores of the rock.

Location: About 50 km south of Fort St. John, British Columbia

Products: Sales gas (methane), natural gas liquids and condensate

  • Sales gas (methane) is used for heating homes and offices
  • Natural gas liquids (NGL) include propane, butane and ethane.
    • Propane is sold to domestic and United States distributors for heating, crop drying, auto fuel and petrochemical feedstock.
    • Butane is shipped to refineries where is used as a gasoline blending component and as a fuel in products such as butane lighters and curling irons. 
    • Ethane is shipped by pipeline to petrochemical plants where it is used as a "building block" for a variety of chemicals and plastics.
  • Condensate is used by refineries to produce gasoline and diesel fuel

Facilities: Shell’s Groundbirch venture includes facilities for water and fluid handling, oil batteries and gas processing.

Staff: Shell Groundbirch employs an average of 150 employees and contractors in the Fort St. John office and field, with an additional daily average of 100-200 field contractors, and more than 100 staff and contractors based in Calgary, Alberta.

Contact Information: 1-888-384-6465

The Development Chain process chart explains our development chain at Groundbirch, from seismic testing in exploration to natural gas production and distribution into your home.

Lifecycle of an Onshore Well

Operating Principles

Two engineers at tight and shale gas plant

Our five aspirational operating principles focus on safety, environmental safeguards, and engagement with nearby communities to address concerns and help develop local economies. We are working towards making all of our Shell-operated onshore projects where hydraulic fracturing is used, to produce gas and oil from tight sandstone or shale, consistent with these principles.

We consider each project – from the geology to the surrounding environment and communities – and design our activities using technology and innovative approaches best suited to local conditions. We also support government regulations consistent with these principles that are designed to reduce risks to the environment and keep those living near operations safe.

Learn about how we use the principles for projects we operate and projects where Shell is involved, but not the operator, in the full principles guide.

Our five principles are:

  • Safety
    Shell designs, constructs and operates wells and facilities in a safe and responsible way. 
  • Water
    Shell conducts its operations in a manner that protects groundwater and reduces potable water use as reasonably practicable.
  • Air
    Shell conducts its operations in a manner that protects air quality and controls fugitive emissions as reasonably practicable.
  • Footprint 
    Shell works to reduce its operational footprint.
  • Community
    Shell engages with local communities regarding socio-economic impacts that may arise from its operations.

Read the Operating Principles in full and learn about our examples in practice.

Read the Shell's On-Shore Operating Principles in Action in North America: Methane Fact Sheet

Water Management

Workers walk towards a pond in the Groundbirch field

Water management is an issue with increasing importance for Shell and the rest of the energy industry.

Water life-cycle management serves as a critical, foundational component of Unconventional activities.

Read more about our Groundbirch water management.


We aim to be good neighbours and seek appropriate and effective ways to contribute to the well-being of the communities around our operations and planned future developments. This means working with people close to our operations to address their concerns and help them benefit from our activities, such as buying and hiring locally.

Social Investment

Shell strives to benefit the local communities in which we operate. Since 2009, Shell has invested nearly $4.8M (CAD) in northeast B.C. We focus on providing long-term sustainable programs in four main areas: Environment, Education, Employees and Community.

Find out more about Shell’s Social Investment program.

In 2017, Shell Groundbirch launched the NEBC Community Grants Program. Thirteen non-profit organizations from across the region benefited from the program during this first year.

Indigenous Engagement

We believe Indigenous communities are important partners. Our projects must be designed and implemented to minimize impacts, provide shared value and enhance relationships with Indigenous Peoples.

Building and maintaining trusting relationships, investing in human capacity and sharing economic benefits provides opportunity to maintain social license to operate, reduce project risks and builds a diverse and inclusive workforce.

Shell acknowledges the rights of Indigenous Peoples and recognizes that additional resources, strategies and actions are required to engage with impacted communities to understand their concerns and issues to develop and implement mitigation and enhancement measures, as well as develop relationships for the life of our operations.

Rural Roots & Resources Community Advisory Group

Rural Roots & Resources, a B.C.-based synergy group, is a collaborative process between Shell and community members. The intention is to work together as a team to face and address the issues and challenges associated with the development of Shell’s projects in the Groundbirch area.

The Groundbirch Gazette

The Groundbirch Gazette is the bi-annual Shell newsletter for northeast B.C. featuring Shell stories from the local area.

Read our archived editions here.

More from Groundbirch

NEBC Community Grant Program

Shell Groundbirch invests in non-profit organizations in communities in northeast British Columbia (NEBC) each year through the Community Grants Program, which was established in 2017 as part of our commitment to our communities.

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