Royal Dutch Shell has been operating in the tar sands since 1956 and is now one of the largest players in the industry, producing approximately 276,000 barrels per day or roughly 20% of total exports from Alberta. Shell has put forth applications to expand its capacity through new mines and in situ projects, to a projected 770,000 barrel per day capacity. However, strong community resistance to Shell has damaged their reputation with both shareholders and the public. Indeed, Shell has been named in five lawsuits related to tar sands developments and has faced shareholder resolutions demanding greater clarity over the risk of tar sands investments.
On September 30, 2011 the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN) filed a lawsuit against Shell Canada for unfulfilled terms of agreements between ACFN and Shell regarding Shell’s existing tar sands mines on ACFN’s territory. This case is still in the courts with no date set for hearings.
Shell is proposing to massively expand one of these existing projects, and also has plans for a completely new project in an area that is very important to ACFN’s traditional way of life. ACFN members fear that these mines will have catastrophic effects on First Nations rights, and the environment. If these proposals are approved it would more than double Shell’s tar sands operations. ACFN wants no further developments until Shell is brought to justice and their broader concerns about the cumulative impacts in the region are addressed.
In addition to filing suit over Shell’s existing projects, ACFN also mounted a constitutional challenge to Shell’s new proposed developments, arguing that the cumulative impacts of Shell’s developments on ACFN’s land would violate their treaty rights to hunt, fish and trap. However the Review Panel ruled that it does not have the jurisdiction to consider constitutional questions, and ACFN’s appeal was dismissed.
ACFN remains dedicated to protecting their sacred territories and have vowed to blockade the only major road to the tar sands if their voices continue to be ignored. They are calling on people around the world to act in solidarity against Shell.
- Find out more about the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation case against Shell
- Tar Sands is of course not the only form of pollution Shell is involved in. Read here about other forms of destruction Shell is responsible for, or is planing to get involved in.
- You can learn more about Shell’s involvement in the Canadian Tar Sands, the Nigerian Oil fields and in Arctic drilling off the shore of Alaska by downloading our Risking Ruin : Shell’s dangerous developments in the Tar Sands, Arctic, and Nigeria report (pdf).
- We came together with our allies to protest against Shell’s sponsoring of research at Oxford University
- We joined new group Shell Out Sounds in three-part harmony to confront Shell’s support of the Southbank Centre
- In November UKTSN joined our friends and allies in blockading a tar sands lobbying event featuring Shell’s chief financial officer
- In October we disrupted Shell’s UK Chairman Graham van’t Hoff when we was making a speech at a conference on climate change.
- We went to Shell’s 2012 AGM, bringing Indigenous representatives affected by the tar sands (including an ACFN community member) to confront the board.
- In November 2011 the UK Tar Sands Network served papers to Shell UK executives on behalf of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN).
ruled that it does not have the jurisdiction to consider the constitutional questions