Royal-Dutch Shell

The Paris Agreement: Have Oil Companies Got The Memo?

By David Powell, associate director, environment, at the New Economics Foundation (NEF). This article has been cross-posted from NEF.

If you’re the boss of BP, Chevron or Shell, how worried are you right now? 

171 governments put pen to paper last week, formally signing the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. The New York event was an encouraging, albeit largely symbolic, confirmation of December’s commitment to limit temperature rises to two degrees or lower.

The world has spoken; the science is clear; the likes of Mark Carney continue to warn about the economic risk of drilling like there’s no tomorrow. Paris provokes a very simple acid test: most of the world’s known reserves of oil, coal and gas will have to be kept in the ground – and you can forget prospecting for more.

There’s only one problem: oil companies don’t seem to have noticed.

Meet the 15 Fossil Fuel Giants Behind the Controversial Law to Maximise UK Oil and Gas Extraction

Shell, BP, Total UK and Centrica are just a few of the 15 oil and gas companies courted by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) to help implement the Wood Review recommendation to maximise the economic recovery of UK petroleum (MER UK) – a policy which is now law under the Infrastructure Act.

Under the Infrastructure Act this policy introduces a new legal obligation on current and future governments to extract every last drop of oil and gas. This is in direct conflict with Britain’s target to reduce emissions by 80 percent by 2050.

According to the agenda for a June 2014 PILOT meeting between government and industry obtained by DeSmog UK, the companies were consulted on how to implement the MER UK recommendation one month prior to the government issuing its official statement on implementing the Wood Review.

Shell Not Arctic Ready, Spoofed By Honest Ad Campaign

The news of Royal-Dutch Shell's recent decision to hold off on Arctic drilling until next season offers some relief to those keeping track of the company's shoddy performance in Alaska to date. Shell advertised their position as “Arctic Ready,” suggesting their out of date drill rigs, their non-existent disaster spill response, and their technical know-how were 'ready' to take on the temperamental Arctic.  

But within the first few months of establishing their northern operations, Shell suffered several embarrassing mishaps, demonstrating just how unfit they were to take on some of the most dangerous drilling conditions in the world.
 
The company's aging fleet got a late start in the short drilling season when the Noble Discoverer was occupied by Xena, The Warrior Princess, delaying its voyage to Alaska from New Zealand. Peter Velez, Shell's head of Arctic Emergency Response admitted the company had not considered the cost of spills or other disasters like a well blow out, saying the chances of something like that occurring are “very, very small.” Shell's Arctic Challenger was deemed unsafe by the US Coast Guard, while it sat leaking hydraulic fluid into a Washington state port, just before the Noble Discoverer nearly ran aground in an Alaskan bay
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