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Public asked to place its trust in Shell operating principles

By John Donovan

In the article below, part of a major PR campaign, Shell Oil President Marvin Odum (right) asks a public concerned about Shell onshore operations, including hydraulic fracturing (fracking), to place its trust in the integrity of Shell and its global operating principles.

It is therefore timely to reflect on the repeated assurances of Shell business principles and code of ethics contained in the Form 20-F returns Shell filed with the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission in the run up to the reserves scandal, which turned out to contain fraudulent declarations of oil and gas reserves.

There are links below to one such declaration filed by Shell in March 2003: Every page was marked “FOIA Confidential Treatment Requested” – a request for exemption from the U.S. Freedom of Information Act. This particular Form 20-F was filed 10 months before news of the reserves scandal broke.

Why should anyone believe Shell this time, when it conned investors and the public so recently in one of the biggest securities frauds in history? A scandal which brought to an end the Shell Transport/Royal Dutch Petroleum partnership which had lasted for a 100 years.

Examples of the repeated references to Shell business principles and related code of ethics can be found on pages 2,12 & 23 of “Part 3” accessible below.

Form 20F Return in 5 Parts

Part 1 (31 pages)

Part 2 (31 Pages)

Part 3 (41 Pages) (see pages 2, 12 & 23)

Part 4( 41 Pages)

Part 5 (39 Pages)

Examples of news articles arising from the fraud:

The Times: How Shell blew a hole in a 100-year reputation: 10 January 2004

The West Australian: Investors howl for Shell’s blood: 12 January 2004

London Evening Standard: Shell bosses lied to the City: 19 April 2004

(Former executives, led by ex-chairman Sir Philip Watts, admitted they had repeatedly lied to investors about the true level of Shell’s oil and gas reserves.)

Houston Chronicle: ‘Sick and tired about lying’ at Shell: 19 April 2004

Bloomberg: Shell Loses AAA Credit Rating: 19 April 2004

Shell bosses ‘fooled the market’: 19 April 2004

The Guardian: Trail of emails reveals depths of deceit at the heart of Shell: 20 April 2004

he Guardian: Shell admits it misled investors: 20 April 2004

The Independent: Lies, cover-ups, fat cats and an oil giant in crisis: 20 April 2004

The Scotsman: Shell admits reserve ‘lies’: 20 April 2004

SHELL ARTICLE: Shell Principles Provide Framework, Accountability for Company’s Global Tight/Shale Oil and Gas Operations

ASPEN, Colo., June 29, 2011 /CNW/ — Today, from the 2011 Aspen Ideas Festival, Shell makes its Global Onshore Tight/Shale Oil and Gas Operating Principles available to the public with examples of how the company delivers them. Shell has a rigorous set of five global operating principles that provide a tested framework for protecting water, air, biodiversity, and the communities in which Shell operates.

Shell is openly sharing these operating principles to address public concern about tight/shale oil and gas development – especially regarding hydraulic fracturing – encourage feedback and challenge from our stakeholders, and drive continuous improvement. Shell also supports regulation and enforcement that reinforces responsible operating practices and continues to improve the industry’s overall performance.

“We understand there is concern around the development of shale gas, and we must give the public more knowledge of how we operate,” said Marvin Odum, President, Shell Oil Company. “People have asked the industry for transparency; we have listened and are responding.”

Specific on water, hydraulic fracturing has attracted a great deal of attention in recent months. As an example of how we deliver these principles, which are now described online, Shell mandates a stringent well construction standard that focuses on the use of safe drilling and completion processes, including reducing the risk of water contamination.

Further, Shell supports the disclosure of chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing fluids, monitoring of groundwater, and a reduction in the amount of water used in the drilling process. Shell does not fracture wells unless it has pressure tested the wellbore for integrity. And, the company recycles as much water at each project as reasonably practicable. For example, in the Marcellus Shale, Shell recycles almost 100% of produced fluids, substantially reducing our fluid waste and reducing the amount of water volumes needed for hydraulic fracturing.

In the last decade, the industry has discovered an abundance of natural gas. Of the world’s 250-year supply of gas estimated by the International Energy Agency (IEA), almost half is contained in shales, tight sandstones, and coal beds. More than one-third of the global gas-production increase, forecasted by the IEA over the next 25 years, could come from these sources.

“If the innumerable benefits of natural gas are to be realized, we must address the concerns of citizens and share the principles that we hold ourselves to at Shell,” said Odum. “These principles manage the risk we know exists when producing energy, but just as importantly, they demonstrate our operational integrity and focus on collaboration, underpinning our belief that natural gas can be produced safely and responsibly.”

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