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The Guardian (UK): Profits up a fifth but Shell emits more CO2 than most countries

Terry Macalister
Friday February 2, 2007

ExxonMobil and Shell, two of the biggest carbon emitters in the world, reported combined annual profits yesterday of nearly £90m a day, earned largely from oil production, refining and petrol stations.

The earnings triggered protests from trade unions and fuel poverty groups as well as environmental campaigners.

Exxon’s net income of $39.5bn (£20bn) last year is the largest ever recorded in US corporate history and comes amid mounting fears worldwide about the impact of CO2 output on global warming.

Shell’s profits of $25bn were up 21% on a year earlier, over a period when oil prices soared to $80 a barrel, although they have slipped back 30% since last summer.
Jeroen van der Veer, Shell’s chief executive, declined to give a figure for the company’s carbon emissions for the 12-month period but the company confirmed that the figure for 2005 was 102m tonnes – more than some 150 countries produce each.

Shell insisted it would be “pointless” to say how much of Shell’s $23bn of capital expenditure was going into renewable energy schemes. Mr van der Veer indicated that the investment in renewables was small, saying it would be “throwing money away” to invest in alternative energy projects that were uncommercial and people could not afford to buy. “We have to put more into research and get a value proposition,” he said.

Friends of the Earth took out full-page newspaper adverts yesterday that demanded of Shell: “Use your profits to clean up your mess.” It pointed to gas flaring in Nigeria, leaking pipes in South Africa and endangered whales at Sakhalin as examples of environmental damage.

But Mr van der Veer said the environmental group’s claims were ill informed and insulted his staff. “I do not like Shell people being portrayed as people not doing a good job,” he said angrily.

The strong financial performance of Shell was helped by a strong fourth quarter but Exxon saw its profits fall slightly to $10.25bn over that period, largely as a result of a drop in natural gas prices and lower oil production volumes.

Shell said its output volumes had fallen partly due to sabotage and unrest, which has halted most production in the Niger Delta. It also said growth in output of only 1% or 2% should be expected up to 2010, partly due to the forced sale of its Sakhalin-2 scheme in Russia as well as problems in Nigeria, although it said production should increase by 3% or 4% after that.

The Anglo-Dutch group admitted that the reduced holding in the Sakhalin gas project would knock 0.4bn barrels of oil equivalents off its reserves base in 2007 when the deal should be consummated.

Shell boasted that its reserves replacement ratio was likely to reach 150% as it added more than 2bn barrels of oil equivalents for the second year in a row. But officials admitted later that much of this came from gas-to-oil plus oil sands projects – reserves that are far more expensive to produce than traditional oil and gas.

The company has been moving into increasingly tough political terrain such as Russia and even Iran, despite US opposition to investment in that country. Mr van der Veer admitted this was a “dilemma” but insisted Shell was some way off making a definite decision on the huge South Pars gas project there, which could put it on a collision course with Washington.

The Shell boss declined to completely bury continuing speculation of a possible merger between his company and the currently troubled BP. “I’m not even going to comment on those kinds of rumours,” he said but had earlier stated: “We don’t shy away from acquisitions ever.”

Green groups were not alone in their concerns about Shell’s profits, with union leaders calling on the company to spend more in the North Sea, where there have been several safety scares amid concerns that spending had been cut in the past.

Graham Tran, an Amicus regional officer, said: “It’s time for Shell to evaluate its commitment to the North Sea and its staff. Offshore safety statistics are moving in the wrong direction. Shell needs to ensure its workers can operate in the safest possible environment. They will have to revisit their already committed spend on maintenance backlog, with a view to increasing it significantly.”

National Energy Action, an energy efficiency charity, called on the government and Shell to use some of the “surging” profits to help fight fuel poverty.,,2004173,00.html and its sister websites,,,,, and are all owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia article.

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