Shareholders question Shell’s Canadian oil sands investments

19 January 2010 15:42  [Source: ICIS news]

TORONTO (ICIS news)--A group of shareholders is questioning Shell's investments in Canada’s growing oil sands industry because of the environmental impact, the group said on Tuesday.

UK-based FairPensions, an organisation that said it promotes “responsible” pension investments, said it had worked with a coalition of investors and non-government organisations to file a resolution at Shell’s upcoming annual meeting in May to question those investments.

Canadian-based petrochemicals producers are looking to off-gases from upgrading Alberta's oil sands as an important source of feedstock to supply existing capacities, as well as expansions and new plants.

FairPensions said while oil sands (also known as tar sands) make up the world's second largest oil reserves with an estimated 173bn barrels, the damage they could cause to the climate were even worse than that of conventional oil. 

“The greenhouse gas emissions of converting tar sands into fuel is three times higher [than that of conventional oil],” it said.

The group’s financial concerns included questions about whether future oil prices would be high enough to outweigh the high costs of producing oil sands, installing carbon capture and storage and expected carbon-emissions costs, it said.

“Investors working with FairPensions think that Shell's financial assumptions may be too optimistic,” it added.

Media officials at Shell’s regional headquarters in Calgary, Alberta, were not immediately available for additional comment.

On its Canadian website, Shell - one of the largest investors in the oil sands - defends its environmental record.

It points, among other measures, to planned investments in carbon capture and storage in Alberta to reduce the environmental footprint of its oil sands business there.

For more on Shell visit ICIS company intelligence
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By: Stefan Baumgarten
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