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BP and Shell Investors Want BP and Shell Out of Canadian Oil Sands

Written by Zachary Shahan

Published on February 10th, 2010

When environmentalists ask you to do something, you might not listen. When concerned citizens ask you to do something, you might not listen. When scientists ask you to do something, you might not listen. But when your investors ask you to do something, maybe then you’ll listen.

BP and Shell investors are demanding that they leave the Canadian oil sands alone. Why? For the bottom line (as well as all of the moral environmental reasons).

But does it look like BP and Shell will actually listen?

BP Investors Challenge Getting Oil from Canadian Oil Sands

“The Co-operative Asset Management, the Unison Staff Pension Scheme, a group of clients from Rathbone Greenbank and the COIF Charities Investment Fund are all signatories to the resolution which tells BP not to commit $10bn (£6.4bn) to its Sunrise oil sands development,” Tom Young of BusinessGreen reports.

Basically, these investors don’t support getting oil from the Canadian oil sands because processing that oil is more expensive and more environmentally damaging than traditional oil exploration.

“We believe that environmental costs may make an expensive business prohibitively so, without fundamentally addressing the issue of a large net rise in emissions,” said Niall O’Shea, head of responsible investing at the Co-operative Asset Management. “BP should reassure shareholders that what they’re embarking on is fully costed, prudent and can withstand a more carbon-constrained world.”

Shell Investors Challenge Getting Oil from Canadian Oil Sands

A similar thing came to the forefront last month with Shell. Shell investors announced they would file a resolution demanding more information on the risks associated with Canadian oil sands projects. A little softer perhaps, but along the same lines.

BP and Shell Likely to Change Course?

Unfortunately, words from the men on top show that BP and Shell are unlikely to agree to these investors’ demands or requests.

Apparently, previous BP chief executive Lord Browne of Madingley said he would not invest in oil sands. But the new BP chief executive Tony Hayward seems to have different plans. He told the Guardian that he saw no problem making such investments.

“Canadian heavy oil is going to be a very important part of America’s energy, ” he said.

Similarly, regarding the Shell case, Shell told the Guardian: “The resolution is basically a request for further information around the economics and other aspects of our oil sands operations. The resolution is submitted by shareholders representing some 0.15 per cent of our total outstanding shares.” It doesn’t sound like Shell is looking to change course here, just to explain why they have no problem extracting oil from the oil sands.

We will see what will come of these two cases. But it looks like even concerned investors can’t get the top guys calling the shots to change their plans on this.

Image Credit: vaXzine via flickr under a CC license Article

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