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Shell

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Shell (Royal Dutch Shell) is part of the world's largest Public-Private Partnership (P3) N.V.Nederlandse Gasunie,[1] together with Exxon (Esso) and the Dutch government. [3] Shell describes itself as "a global group of oil, gas and petrochemical companies with a broad portfolio of hydrogen, biofuels, wind and solar power interests" [4] Shell operates in "more than 140 countries and territories" and has over 100,000 employees, according to its website (accessed February 2007). [5]

The company recorded $9.8 billion in profits in 2009.[2] Like other oil companies and the industry group American Petroleum Institute, Shell has launched PR campaigns to counter "windfall profit" tax proposals and public anger at high oil prices. [6]

Ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council

Shell is a corporate member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) as of 2011. G. Edward Pickle, Senior Government Affairs Counsel of Shell Oil Company, is Shell's representative to ALEC's Civil Justice Task Force.[3] It was a "Chairman" level sponsor of the 2011 American Legislative Exchange Council Annual Conference, which in 2010, equated to $50,000.[4] Shell also sponsored the Plenary Session speeches on August 4th, 2011, by ALEC "scholars" Arthur B. Laffer and Stephen Moore.[5]

About ALEC
ALEC is a corporate bill mill. It is not just a lobby or a front group; it is much more powerful than that. Through ALEC, corporations hand state legislators their wishlists to benefit their bottom line. Corporations fund almost all of ALEC's operations. They pay for a seat on ALEC task forces where corporate lobbyists and special interest reps vote with elected officials to approve “model” bills. Learn more at the Center for Media and Democracy's ALECexposed.org, and check out breaking news on our PRWatch.org site.


Political contributions and lobbying

Shell gave $71,500 to federal candidates in the 05/06 election cycle through its political action committee (PAC) - 14% to Democrats and 86% to Republicans. [6]

Shell is one of the largest energy company contributors to both Republican and Democratic candidates for Congress. These contributions total $120,400 to the 110th US Congress (as of the third quarter), the largest of which has been to Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK). Senator Stevens, for his part, has consistently voted with the oil industry on energy, war and climate bills.[7]

More information on oil industry contributions to Congress can be found at FollowtheOilMoney.org, created by the nonpartisan, nonprofit organization Oil Change International.

In the first quarter of 2010, Shell spent $2,320,000 lobbying the U.S. Federal Government.[8]

Controversies

(Shell's environmental and human rights record, including its activities in Africa and information about activist Ken Saro-Wiwa, as well as in other countries will be discussed in this section soon.)

Fudging on oil reserves

In March 2004, the controversy over the exaggeration of the oil and gas reserves of Shell resulted in the resignation of the then chairman, Philip Watts, and Walter van de Vijver, who was responsible for exploration and production. In an attempt to manage the crisis Shell hired the Brunswick Group to help it manage the crisis. "Brunswick has recently come on board, but we don't really say much more about what they do," Corrigan told PR Week.

PR Week also reported that for several years Shell had - and continued to - use the London-based Finsbury to handle financial PR for the company and was also advising on managing the crisis on the overstated reserves. [9]

Shell Public Relations

(More information on Shell's PR campaigns in response to citizen protests in Africa, Ireland, and the U.S. will be added to this article.)

Shell PR Campaigns

Here is some information about one of Shell's PR campaigns:

Along with other global corporations in the oil industry, like the American Petroleum Institute, Shell has launched PR campaigns to counter "windfall profit" tax proposals and public anger at high oil prices . [10]

In 2006, Shell president John Hofmeister and other executives held "one-on-one and group meetings, receptions, speeches, and other events with local chambers of commerce, rotary clubs, educational institutions, media members, environmental groups, government officials, Shell employees themselves, and others." The goal is to reach 10,000 people in total, in cities including Dallas, Milwaukee, Phoenix, Seattle, Charlotte and Honolulu.

"As an industry, we have not done a good job about educating people and talking about how gas prices are set," explained Shell's senior media relations specialist, Darci Sinclair. So, over the next two years, Shell "will send its senior leaders on a 50-city 'tour'," reported PR Week in June 2006.

In May 2007, USA Today described one of Shell's "tour" stops, in Richmond, Virginia. The small, invite-only audience ranged "from supportive state politicians to deeply skeptical environmentalists," and was "selected by Shell's public relations agency, Burson-Marsteller." At the event, Shell president John Hofmeister "deftly field[ed] even the most pointed questions," commending but then passing on one environmentalist's challenge to support higher automobile fuel economy standards. Hofmeister frequently alluded to "the need to tap into offshore oil reservoirs." Shell wants to drill off Virginia's southern coast, but the idea "remains controversial and requires congressional approval." [11]

As part of the PR tour, Shell's Hofmeister has spoken at various universities, like the University of Delaware on "achieving energy security through sound public policy," part of university campaigns titled, "Boiling Point: International Politics of Climate Change." [7]

Shell Ads Declared Greenwashing

In August 2008, Shell was found guilty of misleading the public over its tar sands operations. The British Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) ruled that the company should not have used the word "sustainable" when describing its Canadian tar sands operations. The ASA ruled that the Shell ad had breached rules on substantiation, truthfulness and environmental claims.

The Shell was was from a February 2008 issue of Financial Times and accompanied Shell's financial results. The oil giant claimed that: “We invest today’s profits in tomorrow’s solutions.” Shell explained it was harnessing its technical expertise “to unlock the potential of the vast Canadian oil sands deposits”, but then added: “Continued investment in technology is one of the key ways we are able to address this challenge, and continue to secure a profitable and sustainable future.”

Shell was challenged by environmental organisation WWF. David Norman, the WWF’s director of campaigns, said: “The ASA’s decision to uphold WWF’s complaint sends a strong signal to business and industry that greenwash is unacceptable.” To celebrate its victory, WWF launched an ad campaign outside London’s Waterloo station stating “Shell can’t hide the environmental impact of their oil sand projects.” [8]

Selling off solar

Shell "has quietly sold off most of its solar business," reported Terry Macalister in December 2007. In 2006, "Shell hived off its solar module production business. The division, with 600 staff and manufacturing plants in the US, Canada and Germany, went to Munich-based SolarWorld." In late 2007, Singapore's Environ Energy Global bought "Shell's photovoltaic operations in India and Sri Lanka, with more than 260 staff and 28 offices, for an undisclosed sum." Shell plans to also sell its solar operations in the Philippines and Indonesia. "Shell has however formed a manufacturing link, with Saint-Gobain, and promised to build one plant in Germany," according to Macalister.

A Shell spokesperson said that solar "was not bringing in any profit for us there so we transferred it to another operator. The buyer will be able to take it to the next level." [9]

Executive committee

From Shell's website (accessed February 16, 2007): [12]

  • Peter Voser, Chief Executive of Royal Dutch Shell,
  • Marvin Odum, President/Upstream Americas Director
  • Linda Cook, Executive Director Gas & Power
  • Malcolm Brinded, Executive Director Exploration & Production,
  • Simon Henry, Chief Financial Officer
  • Rob Routs, Executive Director Downstream Oil Products & Chemicals

Contact information

Physical Address:
Carel van Bylandtlaan 16
2596 HR The Hague, The Netherlands
Tel. +31 70 377 9111

Postal Address:
PO box 162
2501 AN The Hague, The Netherlands

Shell Oil Company U.S. Address:
P.O. Box 2463
Houston, TX 77252
Tel. 713-241-6161 (all Shell U.S. companies)
Shell U.S. Media Relations: 713-241-4544

Website: http://www.shell.com

Articles and resources

Related SourceWatch articles

References

  1. Arabian Oil and Gas, Shell to sell six refineries and cut 1000 jobs.[1]
  2. Arabian Oil and Gas, Shell to sell six refineries and cut 1000 jobs.[2]
  3. The Federation of Defense and Corporate Counsel G. Edward Pickle, organization biography, accessed June 11, 2011
  4. [American Legislative Exchange Council, 2011 Conference Sponsors, conference brochure on file with CMD, August 11, 2011]
  5. American Legislative Exchange Council, "Solutions for the States," 38th Annual Meeting agenda, on file with CMD, August 3-6, 2011
  6. 2006 PAC Summary Data, Open Secrets, accessed July 2007.
  7. Press release, "Politics of climate change focus of spring lecture series," University of Delaware, January 11, 2008.
  8. Martin Hickman Shell rebuked for 'greenwash' over ad for polluting oil project, The Independent, August 13, 2008.
  9. Terry Macallister, "Big Oil lets sun set on renewables: Shell has quietly shed most of its solar power, while BP is buying into dirty tar sands," The Guardian (UK), December 11, 2007.

External resources

External articles