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Shell conciliatory as Greenpeace protest ends

EDMONTON SUN

By SUN MEDIA

Last Updated: 17th September 2009, 2:58am

Shell Canada is succeeding where Edmonton and Ottawa have largely failed to date: it is trying to engage environmental groups to discuss Alberta’s oilsands.

Granted, the Canadian wing of the Dutch-based energy giant had the encounter with Greenpeace foisted upon itself after more than 20 protesters entered the Muskeg River mine Tuesday and temporarily forced a shutdown of operations, but the oilsands operator struck a conciliatory note as the protest entered its second day before ending yesterday afternoon.

“Frankly, we welcome the attention on the oilsands issues,” said Shell Canada spokesman Paul Hegel. “This is an opportunity for us to tell people why this resource is required. We want to engage Greenpeace.

“We want to engage other NGOs and (environmental) NGOs.”

Greenpeace, however, hasn’t yet responded to an invitation to talk with executive John Abbott.

Chances are Shell’s carefully designed message will be heard by an international audience, as the Greenpeace protest is making headlines in North America and Europe.

Still, it is doubtful there’ll be a meeting of the minds, because Shell’s viewpoint that the oilsands have to be developed as energy demands grows is diametrically opposed to Greenpeace’s position that the “tarsands” are a “climate crime.”

“We’re willing to sit down with any reasonable critic and anyone that’s willing to listen to our perspective and meet us halfway,” Hegel said.

As a result of the protest, however, Shell is reviewing its security practices and intends to share the findings with government and industry.

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