Houston Chronicle: Shell has fewer spills, deaths among workers
28 May 2005
By STEPHEN VOSS
The Royal Dutch-Shell Group of Companies reported fewer oil spills and worker deaths, no change in greenhouse gas emissions and an increase in bribes in an annual assessment of its corporate responsibility.
The company, which operates in 140 countries, spilled 6,600 tons of liquids in 2004, down from 6,700 tons in 2003. U.S. offshore pipelines damaged by Hurricane Ivan spilled 1,500 tons alone, making it overshoot a global target of 6,100 tons.
“The growth of energy companies in the decades ahead will depend on their ability to operate with integrity and to listen and respond to society’s expectations for their operations and products,” Shell Chief Executive Jeroen van der Veer said in a report published on Shell’s Web site Friday.
The report describes environmental and safety performance in 2004, a year when investors were angered by cuts to Shell’s oil and gas reserve estimates. At the same time, high oil prices focused attention on the world’s reliance on polluting, fossil fuel energy sources.
The main blot on Shell’s environmental report card was flaring of natural gas in Nigeria, which the company said it won’t phase out until 2009, a year later than planned, partly because the Nigerian government has been slow to pay its share in building gas pipelines. Shell flared 9.2 million tons of gas from its exploration and production operations, down 100,000 tons from 2003, and again missed a target of 9 million.
Shell’s greenhouse gas emissions were unchanged from a year earlier at 112 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent.
Thirty-seven people were killed working for Shell last year, down from 47 in 2003. Two were staff and 35 were contractors. Shell employs about 112,000 staff, two-thirds of them in its oil refining and marketing business.
Shell used armed security in 13 countries, down from 16 countries in 2003. Six contractors were killed in incidents such as kidnappings last year, including five in Nigeria.
“Contractor safety in Nigeria and Russia poses a particular challenge,” the report said.
On safety, Shell said it had 2.6 injuries per million working hours of employees and contractors in 2004, the same rate as the previous two years, and missing a target of 2.4 for 2004.
Shell, which has a global policy not to make political payments, said it made one mistake in 2004 when it paid an invoice to a U.S. industry association that contributed 10 percent to a political action committee.
Shell staff or intermediaries paid or accepted 16 bribes last year, contravening company policy, the report said. That was double the number in 2003, and four times the reported number for 2002.