Contributing Monkie Sarah Backhouse
Published on June 10, 2008
It’s about time someone socked it to the oil companies. A Shell shareholder at the company’s annual meeting in The Hague accused the oil multinational of “selling suicide in the forecourt”. Brilliant! Wish I’d come up with that. So what warranted this poetic outburst? A laundry list of eco-sins: Shell’s insistence to press ahead with its tar sand operations in Canada; continuation of gas flaring in Nigeria; and ditching renewable energy schemes including the world’s largest offshore wind initiative, the London Array.
Shell chief executive Jeroen Van der Veer insisted the company was doing all could meet demand while being mindful of carbon emissions. On Shell’s decision to sell its 33% stake in London Array, executive director of gas and power, Linda Cook, said the economics did not meet the group’s “hurdles rate”. Huh? Given the 45% cost rise, it was now “two and a half times cheaper to build onshore projects in the US” than to pursue the scheme off the Kent coast. Begging the question why Shell decide to invest in this project in the first place. The move has angered green politicians, environmentalists as well as its former partner E.ON.
Caroline Lucas, Green MEP for the south-east of England, said the move had been “further proof that its media-friendly greenspeak is both dishonest and irresponsible” but Van der Veer kept pressed on stating: “We are not just active in wind, but also in hydrogen, thin-film solar and, of course, biofuels”. Really? Meanwhile exploration director, Malcolm Brinded, made no promises Shell would stop gas flaring in Nigeria. Hmmm, looks like business as usual at Shell.