Shell and BP face more criticism

Two major oil companies have come under fire again for their attempts to give themselves a “green” image while acting otherwise. In a new report, three environmental organisations offered “fresh evidence” of Shell’s “colossal contribution to global climate change and its continued investment in carbon-intensive fossil fuels”, while BP shut down its alternative-energy headquarters in London, imposed budget cuts in the division and accepted its chief’s resignation.

Friends of the Earth, Oil Change International and PLATFORM issued research showing that despite attempts by Shell’s outgoing chief executive to portray a green image, the company has made decisions not in keeping with the need to reduce carbon emissions. The company’s heavy investments in highly carbon-emitting energy sources —  including tar sands, liquefied natural gas and crude oil from Nigeria – “make it the dirtiest of all major oil companies with regard to CO2 emissions”, the environmental groups said.

Their report, Shell’s Big Dirty Secret, also provides internal documents that they say show that Shell knew of the environmental dangers of gas flaring in Nigeria more than 15 years ago, but for financial reasons chose not to stop it. Flaring – the burning off of “associated gas” at oil-drilling sites — remains one of the key environmental, health and economic concerns in the Niger Delta.


In BP’s case, the company said it remained committed to exploring new energy sources and that its non-oil division would benefit by being brought back into the company’s London corporate headquarters. Gradually, however, BP has abandoned some alternative-energy investing and moved into controversial oil areas, including Canada’s tar sands.

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