New research reveals that Shell is world’s most carbon intensive oil company

19 May 2009

London, May 19 – Research by four leading environmental organisations released today to coincide with Royal Dutch Shell's Annual General Meeting, reveals the carbon intensity of the top international oil companies. Shell is now the most carbon intensive oil company in the world based on its total resources.

The research examined the leading international oil companies and measured their carbon intensity by calculating emissions per future barrel of oil produced. While all the companies are moving into higher carbon production, Shell stands out because of its reliance on Nigerian crude which is associated with huge levels of gas flaring, liquefied natural gas which is highly energy intensive, and Shell's massive gamble on Canada's tar sands. Shell revealed to investors last year that 30 per cent of its total resources are tar sands.

"As carbon control legislation moves forward in the US, and the world looks towards Copenhagen for action to limit climate change, Shell is going the wrong way by massively increasing the carbon intensity of its production" said Steve Kretzmann, Executive Director of Oil Change International, and one of the authors of the report.

Charlie Kronick, senior climate advisor of Greenpeace UK said "Shell has a stated goal to be the leading tar sands operator, but they can't lead on tar sands and climate change at the same time. A strategy based on tar sands will inevitably not just damage the climate but also increase risks to the company's future as well as shareholder and investor value."

"Shell's carbon heavy portfolio explains why they have been leading the industry lobby against EU carbon control legislation in Brussels," said Paul de Clerck, Corporate Campaign Coordinator for Friends of the Earth International.

This is not just a problem for Shell. Investors around the world are voicing their concerns over tar sands investment. 30 per cent of ConocoPhillips shareholders voted for a resolution calling for an assessment of the environmental impact of the company's tar sands projects and today at Statoil's annual meeting significant support is expected for a motion calling for the company to end its tar sands investment altogether.This research shows that Shell's tar sands liability and carbon exposure is in fact the greatest among its peers and its claims on 'responsible energy' need to be seriously questioned by investors.

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The report is available for download here.