Investors warn Shell and BP over tar sands greenwashing

tar_sands.jpgThe UK’s Guardian reported last year:

Shell and BP have been warned by investors that their involvement in unconventional energy production such as Canada’s oil sands could turn out to be the industry’s equivalent of the sub-prime lending that poisoned the banking sector and triggered the current financial crisis.

tar-sands.jpgThe criticism came as a report was released yesterday warning of the potential financial risks of tar sands, and members of the UK Social Investment Forum met in London to consider a Co-op Investments campaign on halting oil industry involvement in the carbon-intensive oil projects.

The report is available here. The story quotes Mark Hoskin, senior partner at the ethical investment advisers Holden & Partners, with this amazing (and depressing) factoid:

“Oil companies depend on oil reserves for their market values. BP and Shell are two of our most trusted UK stocks, but it is a shocking fact that 30% of Shell’s oil reserves are in tar sands.

“This report unveils how dangerous this approach is. There is a good chance that tar sands could be to the oil industry what sub-prime lending was to the banking sector.”

Hard to believe that Shell was once considered among the greenest of all oil companies (see “Royal Dutch Shell spanked for greenwashing ad“). The tar sands are, of course, the “biggest global warming crime ever seen”

The report lists trends moving against investment in this area, not least the decline in the price of oil at a time when the cost of developing tar sand schemes is rising, something highlighted recently by the boss of French oil group Total….

The report by the environmental campaigners also claims that low-carbon fuel standards under consideration by US presidential candidate Barack Obama and already implemented in California threaten to shut down sections of the American market to products derived from tar sands.

Hopefully Obama will take strong action to block imports of tar sand products and won’t be fooled by our neighbors to the north (see “Canada tries to tar-sandbag Obama on climate“).

Shame on both Shell and BP for trying to have it both ways — claiming to be green but actively pursuing the dirtiest forms of unconventional oil.

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9 Responses to Investors warn Shell and BP over tar sands greenwashing

  1. Kathy N says:

    Here’s Hoping they crash just like the sub-prime did. It looks like the only good news coming out of lower oil prices.

  2. Damn. Just when I was hoping to see some “Tasty Tar” commercials from the ad agency representing this fine product from the Great White North.

    “It’s not only totally safe for the environment, Tasty Tar is delicious and nutritious too! Why Drill, Baby, Drill when you can Tar Baby, Tar?”

  3. Dean says:

    If the US bans oil or gasoline derived from tar sands, won’t we be in violation of NAFTA? I suppose it would be a because while prohibits restrictions based on manufacturing methodology, it supposedly does allow restrictions based on environmental considerations. But usually those are based on the actual content of the material involved. And I think that it is trade “experts” who get to make these decisions.

  4. paulm says:

    Is marijuana covered under NAFTA? Good bye tar sands. Canada is late to the recession, but its coming hard, especially when the tar sands are excluded.

  5. paulm says:

    From the originator of the Gaia theory,James Lovelock. He is probably right more than most!

    One last chance to save mankind
    Do we have time to do a similar thing with carbon emissions to save ourselves from climate change?
    Not a hope in hell. Most of the “green” stuff is verging on a gigantic scam.

  6. Investors getting nervous – Insurance companies are getting worried too. They have to cover these companies against nuisance law suits like the case of Kivalina v. Exxon now before the courts. They claim damages are the fault of the carbon fuel companies. And if courts go their way, then suddenly the Judiciary will be leaping into the fray.

    Coal companies have known since 1990 that CO2 is a greenhouse gas. So they can’t claim that tobacco doesn’t cause… ooops ! wrong argument. Coal companies are very afraid of getting sued.

    Petroleum News presents an excellent summary of current oil industry stresses

    Insurance and global warming -try the web site of for way too much information.

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  9. Ian Forrester says:

    DeSmogBlog has a post of an interview that George Monbiot has with Shell CEO Jeroen van der Veer. Van der Veer squirms like a naughty schoolboy in the headmaster’s study.