Indigenous communities oppose ‘extreme energy’ at Shell’s AGM

Shell to face barrage of criticism tomorrow over financially risky and environmentally damaging new projects.

As the business case for tar sands extraction falters, Arctic drilling is suspended, and the company is investigated for price fixing, Shell’s board will be under pressure to defend the direction it is taking at its AGM in The Hague on Tuesday 21 May. You can watch a live webcast of the event if you register.

Eriel and Mae in the Netherlands, preparing to take on Shell tomorrow!

Two Indigenous women, representing communities impacted by Shell’s operations abroad, will attend the AGM to confront the Chairman and Board over the massive human and ecological rights violations and economic devastation that the company’s operations bring to Indigenous communities. They will argue that Shell’s decision to pursue highly risky ‘extreme energy’ projects, like Arctic drilling and Canadian tar sands, will have little long term benefit for the company, and expose it to both reputational damage and political risk, including litigation.

One of the communities represented, the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN), which resides downstream from tar sands operations, is currently suing Shell for violating past agreements that have threatened their treaty rights. The community is also actively opposing two new tar sands mines Shell is proposing to develop on their land. For more details, watch the powerful film above. Legal challenges by other First Nations against tar sands extraction on their traditional territories is also increasing.

Eriel Deranger, community member and spokesperson for ACFN, states:

“Shell’s current and proposed tar sands projects violate terms of our treaty, destroy our land and contaminate waters critical to our survival. The ACFN leadership has made a commitment to protect our lands, rights and people currently being threatened by tar sands development. We have tried exploring amenable agreements and options with Shell only to be disappointed by their inability to compromise and adjust proposed plans to adequately work with us which has led and continues to lead toward litigation. Our culture, lands and rights can no longer stand for unabated and irresponsible development of tar sands in the region by Shell or any operator.”

Shell is also under fire for its Arctic operations. The company has spent $4.5bn securing permits to drill in Arctic waters. However it has been proven incapable of operating in the area and has had to suspend its plans for drilling this summer.

Mae R Hank, tribal member of the Native Village of Point Hope, Alaska, said:

“The Beaufort and Chukchi Seas are critical to the Inupiaq culture and traditions, and provide a vital habitat for the endangered bowhead whales, beluga whales, polar bears, walruses, seals and migratory birds. If an oil spill were to occur in the Arctic’s extreme conditions, there is no proven method to clean it up during Winter. Shell is taking a deadly risk with Inupiat and other Arctic Indigenous peoples’ cultures and food security for shortsighted profit, while the community faces long term consequences to their survival.”

polar bears by Martha de Jong-Lantink

Shell wants to drill in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas, which provide a vital habitat for polar bears as well as many other endangered species. Photo by Martha de Jong-Lantink.

In addition, the UK Tar Sands Network is bringing concerns to Shell’s shareholders over other long-term risks to the company’s investments in tar sands.

The tar sands are landlocked, making them difficult and expensive to get to market. The pipelines that present the industry’s only viable solution to this problem – such as Keystone XL and Enbridge Northern Gateway – are facing massive public opposition, and look unlikely to be built soon. The price of tar sands crude has dropped as a result. Meanwhile, in Europe, the Fuel Quality Directive (FQD) is likely to strongly discourage future tar sands imports europe. lax standards and lack of adequate environmental regulation have led to several high-profile leaks and spills in recent weeks, including the flooding of an arkansas suburb with tar sands oil. meanwhile, a recent report by the carbon tracker initiative identified an alarming ‘carbon bubble’, arguing that 80% of oil companies’ current fossil fuel reserves are ‘unburnable carbon’, and anticipating a crash in prices as climate regulations kick in.

In March, French oil giant Total pulled out of one of its three Canadian tar sands projects, citing the high costs and fragile profit margins that are besetting the whole industry. Total was willing to take a $1.65 billion loss rather than press ahead with what has become a bad investment.

Shell will also be criticised by UK campaigners for heavily lobbying the UK government against the labelling of tar sands as highly polluting in the Fuel Quality Directive. Shell was revealed to have a close relationship with its former Chief Economist, now Secretary of State for Business and Industry and official ‘Minister for Shell’ Vince Cable, in a letter published last year. The letter urged him to harden the government’s line against the FQD, a move which was revealed to have happened in leaked documents published last week.

Eriel Deranger, Robert Thompson, Ron Plain, by Ben Powless

Representatives from Indigenous communities in Canada and the Arctic attended Shell’s AGM last year, but did not feel their concerns were taken seriously. Photo by Ben Powless.

Suzanne Dhaliwal, from the UK Tar Sands Network, commented:

“The risk factors that recently led Total to ditch a major tar sands project are increasing. The tar sands are landlocked and expensive, and opposition to new pipelines has led the price of tar sands crude to drop. Meanwhile, the industry’s high emissions mean that Canada’s oil is increasingly looking like ‘unburnable carbon’. Despite Shell’s frenzied lobbying, upcoming EU legislation on transport emissions could close off this key future market and set a precedent that other countries will follow. Shell should ditch its expansion plans before the carbon bubble bursts, exposing its shareholders to financial disaster.”


5 Responses to “Indigenous communities oppose ‘extreme energy’ at Shell’s AGM”

  1. Andrew Morris says:

    I wish you the very best of luck with your campaign.

    While you’re at it – why not lobby CKUA “community” radio (based in Edmonton but broadcasting throughout Alberta) to refuse sponsorship and donations which it currently enjoys from businesses engaged in oil extraction from the tar sands?

    Live long and prosper.

  2. Stella Boswell says:

    Those who want the oil locked in the Tar Sands of Alberta do not want to live in the country its extraction pollutes or bath or fish in the rivers that are contaminated, or drink its water, but their children and grandchildren will suffer from the increased carbon emissions that the extraction of the oil from the sands produces. What price oil when the price is so high! As a Shell shareholder I do not wish to be associated with it.

  3. […] to the Hague to complain about the company’s activities. One of those to make the trip is Eriel Deranger, from the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN), who are located downstream from the dirty tar […]

  4. newena martin says:

    You must not negotiate or consider ANY oil extraction. YOU DONT WANT COMPENSATION FOR DAMAGE, TOXICITY AND SICKNESS! – YOU DONT WANT THE DAMAGE TO START WITH! Ask your government, “What is wrong with energy from the sun. wind and water?”??? Yes! – it is true that wind mills sea mills and solar panels (see Dale Vince of ‘Ecotricity’ – Zero Energy – who supplies my BioGas and solar, sea and wind energy electricity!) – – use earth’s metals and SOME oil or lubricants, BUT its a long term, good, SOUND, ecological, respectful INTELLIGENT !!! use of earth’s resources to make those – isn’t it? your government and shell and our government are NOT Intelligent!!! -They are just greedy, blind and stupid and evil and not carbon based.-obviously from their actions!
    The people,including our evil government in UK – PM Cameron and Transport Minister Norman Bsker, who pursue this dirty energy are obviously not carbon based! Cant be! Just waiting to go to Mars and live in a polytunnel ! ? They are reptiles form alien planets or other vibrational energies and just ripping off planet earth’s ressources to go home and laughing at you and us without concern – as we are their soap opera entertainment with our fear and vulnerability and out IGNORANCE! I thank you two ladies who are spearheading this confrontation with SHELL et all ! Well DONE Trust it to be two women who face down the make chauvinist greedy rapist ignorance. GO FOR IT and dont enter ANY Negotiations ever again. You must have been tempted by some promises from them of jobs or perks… NOW you know you were seduced and bribed by that, and it was never needed wanted or wise . Tell Shell et all -Go grow some cabbages and get useful!
    Love and Light newena,
    and PS I recccommend Jean M AUEL’s books ‘EARTH’S CHILDREN’. especially the last 4!

  5. Bohdan Zatowkaniuk says:

    I have just finished watching TVO with Eriel in discussion with the tar sands representative. I must say – congratulation on your performance! You were excellent, to the point and very articulate. I wish you best of luck in your fight against the industry and, in more general terms, in your fight for the constitutional protection of the Treaties.

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