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 its 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.
The Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN) is currently embroiled in a constitutional challenge against Shell’s expansion plans. ACFN also filed a lawsuit against Shell Canada in November 2011 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.
Find out more about ACFN’s tar sands challenge.
Shell is one of the biggest oil companies in the world and its influence is felt far beyond Alberta. Shell has been one of the most prominent opponents of the EU Fuel Quality Directive (FQD), legislation which would discourage tar sands oil from being imported into the EU. Shell has been working day and night to cosy up to the UK government, in what the Guardian calls a ‘schmooze-athon’, to discourage the UK from supporting the FQD.
See more on lobbying and the FQD.
Like BP and other oil companies, arms companies and until recently, tobacco companies, Shell likes to keep its well-oiled brand in everyone’s consciousness, to distract from its operations abroad. By sponsoring arts and cultural institutions, universities and science events, Shell maintains its ‘social licence to operate’, ensuring more people have heard that Shell sponsors the Science Museum than that it extracts tar sands.
See our work challenging BP and Shell sponsorship as part of the Art Not Oil Coalition.
Tar Sands is of course not the only form of pollution Shell is involved in. We continue to work with a variety of groups targeting Shell’s controversial operations around the world.
- We attended Shell’s 2013 AGM in May, with Eriel Deranger from the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN), and Mae Hank from Point Hope, Alaska.
- We came together with our allies in May 2013 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 March 2013.
- In November 2012 UKTSN joined our friends and allies in blockading a tar sands lobbying event featuring Shell’s chief financial officer
- In October 2012 we disrupted Shell’s UK Chairman Graham van’t Hoff when he was making a speech at a conference on climate change, which was sponsored by Shell.
- 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 ACFN.