Royal Dutch Shell Group .com

Gulf Times (Qatar): Shell reports fewer oil spills, but more bribes: “...Showa Shell Sekiyu KK, was fined last year for rigging jet fuel prices, a case that’s under appeal. Shell was also fined twice in Ivory Coast for anti- competitive behaviour.” ( 30 May 05


By Stephen Voss


LONDON: Royal Dutch/Shell Group, Europe’s second-largest oil company, reported fewer oil spills and worker deaths, no change in greenhouse gas emissions and an increase in bribes in an annual assessment of its corporate responsibility.


The company, which operates in 140 countries, spilled 6,600 tonnes of liquids in 2004, down from 6,700 tonnes in 2003. US offshore pipelines damaged by Hurricane Ivan spilled 1,500 tonnes alone, making it overshoot a global target of 6,100 tonnes. “The growth of energy companies in the decades ahead will depend on their ability to operate with integrity and to listen and respond to society’s expectations for their operations and products,’’ Shell Chief Executive Jeroen van der Veer said in a report published on Shell’s website.


The report describes environmental and safety performance in 2004, a year when investors were angered by cuts to Shell’s oil and gas reserve estimates. At the same time, high oil prices focused attention on the world’s reliance on polluting, fossil- fuel energy sources.


“The events of the last year have only reinforced my belief that making sustainable development an integral part of how we do our business is critical for our future success,’’ van der Veer said.


The main blot on Shell’s environmental report card was flaring of natural gas in Nigeria, which the company said it won’t phase out until 2009, a year later than planned, partly because the Nigerian government has been slow to pay its share in building gas pipelines.


Shell flared 9.2mn tonnes of gas from its exploration and production operations, down 100,000 tonnes from 2003, and again missed a target of 9mn.


Shell’s greenhouse gas emissions were unchanged from a year earlier at 112mn tonnes of carbon-dioxide equivalent. The company aims to keep emissions of greenhouse gases, which contribute to global warming, at or below 117mn tonnes by 2010, which represents a 5% reduction from 1990. Meeting that goal “will depend on improvements in energy efficiency and, for a large part, on further flaring reductions,’’ it said.


Thirty-seven people were killed working for Shell last year, down from 47 in 2003. Two were staff and 35 were contractors. Shell employs about 112,000 staff, two-thirds of them in its oil refining and marketing business.


Shell used armed security in 13 countries, down from 16 countries in 2003. Six contractors were killed in incidents such as kidnappings last year, including five in Nigeria.


``Contractor safety in Nigeria and Russia pose a particular challenge,’’ the report said. On safety, Shell said it had 2.6 injuries per million working hours of employees and contractors in 2004, the same rate as the previous two years, and missing a target of 2.4 for 2004. More accidents at big construction projects in Nigeria, India and Russia’s Sakhalin Island offset fewer injuries at its US lubricants business.


Shell, which has a global policy not to make political payments, said it made one mistake in 2004 when it paid an invoice to a US industry association that contributed 10% to a political action committee.

Shell staff or intermediaries paid or accepted 16 bribes last year, contravening company policy, the report said. That was double the number in 2003, and four times the reported number for 2002.


BP Plc, Europe’s biggest oil company, also has a policy banning all bribes and corporate political donations. Shareholders of ExxonMobil Corp, the world’s biggest publicly owned oil company, last week voted against a resolution that sought to affirm political nonpartisanship.


Exxon gave $250,000 to US President George W Bush’s inaugural committee to help pay for the January 20 pageant celebrating his second presidency.


All three oil companies set up political action committees, which gather donations from individual employees, and gave more to the Republican Party than the Democrats in the 2004 election.


Exxon shareholders also rejected a shareholder proposal that demanded greater clarity on statements by the Texas-based company on global warming.


Shell cancelled 64 contracts last year because they couldn’t match Shell’s business principles, most often because of health, safety and environment issues. That was up from 49 contracts in 2003, and down from 100 in 2001.


Brazil and the US had the most contracts cancelled. Its Japanese refining unit, Showa Shell Sekiyu KK, was fined last year for rigging jet fuel prices, a case that’s under appeal. Shell was also fined twice in Ivory Coast for anti- competitive behavior. – Bloomberg


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