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The Guardian: Shell faces ecological assault on three fronts at general meeting

Shell faces ecological assault on three fronts at general meeting


Terry Macalister

Monday May 15, 2006

The Guardian



Shell will face a barrage of protests tomorrow at its annual meeting in The Hague over projects at Sakhalin Island in Russia, Bayelsa in Nigeria and Corrib in Ireland.


The Anglo-Dutch oil group will contest a resolution calling on directors to act in a more socially responsible way in terms of the environment and local communities. The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) will back shareholder resolution 15 and argue that new research shows Shell would be unable to clear up any oil spill properly at Sakhalin for six months of the year because of ice.


Shell admitted at its first-quarter financial results meeting a week ago that soaring costs would force it to delay new projects. The Sakhalin scheme has already gone over budget and Shell is under pressure from the Russian government to avoid further delays. The scheme also faces scrutiny from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development to see whether it is suitable for public loans.


“We conclude that if an oil spill occurs during the ice season and no response is possible, the critically endangered grey whale will be in very real danger,” said a WWF spokesman last night. Resolution 15, calling for change from the company, has been proposed by the Ecumenical Council for Social Responsibility, which says it has been trying to get Shell to act more responsibly for 12 years.


The council is particularly critical over the company's decision to run a production pipeline through a populated area at Corrib and about perceived human rights abuses at Bayelsa in the Niger delta. It says Sakhalin 2 “has the potential to threaten the future of a Russian island about the size of England” as well as harm whales.


Shell directors will say the allegations are unfair because the company always engages fully with communities and stakeholders in projects with which it is engaged. “There has been no discernible effect on the western grey whales from Sakhalin Energy's existing Pitun platform. The company's decision last year to reroute an offshore pipeline underlines its efforts to mitigate adverse impacts on the whales,” the board argued in a letter sent to shareholders.



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