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Edmonton Journal: Royal Dutch Shell cuts emissions, spillage due to facility disruptions

Saturday 7 April 2007

Work fatalities rise from company’s presence in Nigeria

Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Europe’s largest oil company, had the lowest level of oil spills and natural gas flaring in at least a decade last year, while worker fatalities rose, company data showed.

Shell, based in The Hague, spilled 5,700 tons of oil and oil products last year. That’s down from 9,000 tons in 2005, which included 3,900 tons of spills caused by hurricane damage.

The flaring, or venting, of natural gas into the atmosphere from Shell’s global operations, fell to 5.7 million tons from 8 million tons, “mainly as a result of production being shut-in in Nigeria,” Shell said in an annual declaration, which also reported on executive pay and oil and gas reserves.

Major oil companies face heightened pressure to improve safety and environmental performance in the wake of BP Plc’s Alaskan oil pipeline spills and Texas refinery explosion and as governments impose legislation aimed at reducing global warming.

Oil spills from Shell’s operations alone, excluding hurricanes and sabotage, rose to 4,400 tons in 2006, from 3,600 tons, largely because of two spills in Nigeria, caused by damage to a buried pipeline and pipeline corrosion. Shell’s overall oil and gas production fell one per cent last year, partly because of militant violence in Nigeria.

“At sites in Nigeria shut down because of the security situation, reliable information about spills will not be available until we return to repair and restart operations,” Shell said in the report.

Two Shell employees and 35 contractors were killed at work last year, which is one more than in 2005, Shell said. Seventeen of the deaths occurred in Nigeria, with nine of those “the result of kidnappings or assaults as politically and criminally motivated violence rose sharply.”

Shell group companies operate in more than 130 countries.

“More fatalities are occurring away from our operations, where we have less oversight and safety depends even more on the behaviour of individuals,” the report said. “The number of fatal assaults, drownings and road accidents all rose.”

Measured another way, the number of employee and contractor deaths per 100 million working hours rose to 4.6 in 2006, up from 4.4 for both of the previous two years and down from 9.0 in 1997.

Shell’s employee and contractor injuries per million working hours was the lowest in at least 10 years.

The Nigerian disruptions also helped the company reduce total greenhouse gases from worldwide Shell-operated facilities for a second year. Emissions fell to 98 million carbon-dioxide- equivalent tons, from 105 million tons in 2005.

“More than two-thirds of the drop was caused by shutting down wells in Nigeria located near areas affected by unrest,” the company said.

© The Edmonton Journal 2007
From Bloomberg News
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