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Shell Emissions Up by 9% Last Year, Natural Gas Flaring Up 32%

by Rachel Cernansky, Boulder, Colorado on 04.18.11

Image: Lee Jordan via flickr

Royal Dutch Shell has released a sustainability report for 2010 showing that its direct greenhouse gas emissions rose by nine percent, and natural gas flaring—a wasteful practice that contributes its own emissions—increased by 32 percent. Shell attributes the increase to expanded production, including in Nigeria, where it says security has improved. People in Nigeria would probably beg to differ.

Environmental Leader reports that flaring, an industry-wide practice that wastes enough energy to power Germany, made up nearly 14 percent of Shell’s emissions last year.

Most of the flaring took place in Nigeria, even though the company pledged last year to reduce flaring in its Nigerian operations. It does appear to be taking some steps in that direction, but it needs to be more than a token gesture.

Environmental Leader says that in Nigeria: “a still-poor security situation and lack of government funding has slowed Shell’s progress on projects to capture the gas.”

The flaring is visible from space, and sends gas plumes into nearby communities, spreading toxic smoke and chemicals into their lungs and onto their farms.

Great news then that instead of addressing the continued problem, living up to its pledge from last year to significantly reduce flaring, or working to stop the continuous oil spills (picture one Exxon Valdez every year), Shell is about to resume a 200,000-barrel-a-day operation in that country.

(The company also just confirmed plans to drill in Alaska’s Arctic waters next year.)

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