5: Royal Dutch Shell initiatives

It is not all a bad news story. Royal Dutch Shell has been responsible for many important initiatives in relation to the environment, encouraging business start-ups, supporting charitable causes and other good works. Shell has also had a long successful relationship with Ferrari.


(Information from WIKIMEDIA COMMONS: The above Shell logo image is in the public domain because its copyright has expired and its author is anonymous.)

Royal Dutch Shell is responsible for many important initiatives in relation to the environment, encouraging business start-ups, supporting charitable causes and other good works. With regard to the environment, Shell has however been accused of “greenwash“, betraying new energy future promises, and in March 2009, announced its intention to abandon wind, solar and hydropower in favour of biofuels.

The Shell Foundation

The Shell Foundation launched in 1997, is a worldwide, social investment initiative to concentrate on working with external partners to promote sustainable development. It is an independent registered charity which has three Shell executives on its board balanced by an equal number of independent non-executive directors, in line with UK Charity Commission rules.

Shell LiveWIRE

Shell LiveWIRE is a global youth enterprise programme designed to encourage and support individuals in the 16 to 30-year-old age group to launch and develop their own businesses. The scheme is operational in 23 countries including the UK, Brazil, Nigeria, Libya, Pakistan, the Netherlands and Singapore. Shell LiveWIRE International operates a social networking website for participants.

Shell Springboard

Shell Springboard was launched in October 2005, offering small and medium-sized businesses cash awards of up to £40,000 for innovative ideas designed to combat climate change by reducing greenhouse emissions. In October 2006, a Financial Times article on climate change opportunities discussed a report published by Shell Springboard concerning issues involved in the quest to stabilise atmospheric greenhouse gases. Winners in the Shell Springboard competition also benefit from “expert advice, coaching and publicity.”

A renewable energy project in Hawaii

Hawaii is “quietly morphing into one of the world’s leading incubators of alternative energy“ due in part to Royal Dutch Shell’s pilot scheme in Hawaii, which has the objective of turning oil-rich algae into fuel on a commercial basis. If proved viable, Shell may build algae processing plants in other locations.

In March 2009, a small local firm backed by Shell, HR Biopetroleum, supplied the first batch of a locally made oil to the U.S. government for testing as aviation fuel. According to a related article: “The technology to convert algae into usable fuel on a large scale is still at least a decade away, and it is unclear if it will ever be practical on a large scale.” However, apparently undaunted by the challenge, Shell says that if HR Biopetroleum manages to perfect the algae-to-oil process, it will fund an industrial plant on 20,000 hectares of coastal land unsuitable for farming. The facility would be built by “Cellana”, the Shell-HR Biopetroleum joint venture company.

Gas to liquids project in Qatar

Shell’s largest single investment, at a reported cost of $18 billion, is a gas-to-liquids project in Qatar known as Pearl GTL. The gas to liquids process converts natural gas into a clean-burn synthetic diesel fuel. An article about the project published in February 2009 said that the technology is untested and involves huge risks. Pearl GTL is due to become operational towards the end of 2010.

Helping U.S. Gulf Coast communities recover from natural catastrophe

Some 70% of Shell’s oil and gas production reportedly takes place off the U.S. Gulf Coast of the Gulf of Mexico. Shell has been instrumental in activities to revive the region in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita. In 2006 Shell sponsored the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, which Shell claims resulted in $250 million of economic activity. According to Business Week magazine, Shell donated $750,000 to assist police officers and volunteers to obtain housing accommodation. Shell gave its employees up to “$1,000 apiece to support neighbourhood rebuilding and recovery efforts.” Shell Oil Company in conjunction with Motiva Enterprises LLC, contributed $4 million for long-term recovery following Hurricane Gustav and Hurricane Ike which both subsequently also hit the Gulf Coast. The American Red Cross received a $1 million donation and the Salvation Army and Gulf Coast Relief Fund were among the other beneficiaries. Shell and Motiva also provided fuel to emergency response organisations. Shell employees staffed public shelters, local food banks and assisted local emergency management organisations. Motiva Enterprises LLC is a refining and marketing joint venture owned by affiliates of Shell and Saudi Aramco.

Shell support for the Salvation Army and United Way of America

Shell Oil Company has supported the United Way of America for 60 years and in the last 20 years, contributed more than $111 million to the organisation. According to an article published in October 2008, “Shell and Motiva’s United Way campaign is an employee/retiree program providing individuals, the opportunity to make monetary and/or sweat equity donations to the United Way of Greater Houston.”Employees are given time off during normal working hours to participate on a voluntary basis in outreach efforts. In October 2008, over 100 Shell and Motiva volunteers carried out a range of refurbishment work at the Houston Salvation Army Boys’ and Girls’ Club.

On 18 November 2008, Shell Oil Company launched a promotion involving three of its major U.S. oil brands, Pennzoil, Quaker State and Shell Rotella, to raise funds for the Salvation Army through a cash rebate promotion called “Change is Good, Giving is Better”. The promotion commenced with a donation of $100,000 as an initial step towards the goal of raising $300,000.

Shell support for Hope Worldwide, an international humanitarian organisation

In January 2009, 500-holiday workers from Shell Oil Company and Motiva Enterprises volunteered their time to sort and packed groceries at the Houston Food Bank as part of theMartin Luther King Jr. holiday activities.

Shell tree planting initiatives in Canada and USA

Tree Canada, a charitable organisation encouraging Canadians to plant trees to help offset the harmful effects of carbon dioxide emissions, presented Shell Canada with an award in 2008 after Shell planted 1 million trees in association with Tree Canada.

Shell has also donated funds to the Tree Canada British Columbia Coast ReLeaf campaign to assist in replanting in locations damaged by windstorms. Shell Canada has contributed more than $800,000 to Tree Canada including funding tree replanting in Alberta. Shell Oil Co., in association with the LA Conservation Corps, has been responsible for one of the largest tree-planting initiatives in Southern California.

Shell Eco-marathon

The Shell Eco-Marathon is an annual competition sponsored by Shell, in which participants design, build and test vehicles to find out who can go the farthest distance using the least fuel. The Eco-Marathon is held around the world with events in the UK, Finland, France, Holland, Japan, and the USA. Over 300 North American students from four high schools and 23universities participated in the 2008 Shell Eco-marathon Americas. 25 vehicles powered by various energy sources, including the internal combustion engine, fuel-cell technology, solar power, diesel engine and liquid gas, competed. According to an article on the auto123.com website: “The event began as a wager between scientists. It was first held in 1939 at a Shell research laboratory in the United States. The best mileage achieved during that competition? 21 km/l!”

According to an article published by Fox Business News “The 2009 Shell Eco-marathon Americas roster contains 52 teams from nine high schools and 32 universities from North and South America – including Brazil, Canada, Mexico and the United States. The Prototype entries include 35 vehicles powered by combustion engines, five by fuel cell/hydrogen technology, three by LPG, three by solar power, two by diesel fuel, and one by ethanol gas.” MarketWatch reported: “The student team from Laval University, with an astonishing 2,757.1 miles per gallon, equivalent to 1,172.2 kilometres per litre, won the grand prize in the “Prototype” category.”

Shell scenario planning

In the 1970s, the Shell Group pioneered the commercial use of “scenario planning” techniques which involved the creation of an in-house think-tank to predict potential future events, challenge existing assumptions and formulate a strategy. According to an article published in March 2009: “The group, as a result, was able to plan for shocks such as rapid escalation of oil prices in the mid-1970s and the collapse of the Soviet bloc. Its success helped to popularise the techniques at intelligence agencies such as the CIA.”

Shell donates US$5 million to Health Promotion Centre in Brunei

Royal Dutch Shell donated US$5 million to a new Health Promotion Centre in Brunei which was completed in October 2008 and opened in November by His Majesty, the Sultan of Brunei. The first of its kind in the Sultanate, it offers a wide range of “innovative and interactive public health education tools and facilities”. The Brunei Health Minister was quoted in an article as saying: “The Ministry of Health acknowledges the crucial support from Royal Dutch Shell and Brunei Shell Petroleum for the Health Promotion Centre”. The monarch was shown around the state-of-the-art facilities which include sections covering physical activities, occupational health, tobacco control, weight management, nutrition and hygiene.

Links to related articles are provided on the final pages of this chapter.

Pearce, Fred (2009-03-26). “Fred Pearce’s Greenwash: Exposing false environmental claims”The Guardian. Retrieved on 2009-04-20.

Webb, Tim (2009-03-17). “Shell dumps wind, solar and hydro power in favour of biofuels”The Guardian. Retrieved on 2009-04-20.

Moules, Jonathan (2008-08-09). “Business Briefing”Financial Times per Shellnews.net. Retrieved on 2009-04-20.

“Small Business Digest”The Sunday Times. 2005-10-16. Retrieved on 2009-04-20.

No author (2006-10-26). “Climate change also brings opportunities”Financial Times per Shellnews.net. Retrieved on 2009-04-20.

No author (2008-05-06). “Start-ups seek prize pay-off”Financial Times per Shellnews.net. Retrieved on 2009-04-20.

Carlton, Jim (2008-06-30). “Alternative State”The Wall Street Journal per Shellnews.net. Retrieved on 2009-04-16.

The Sunday Times 22 March 2009, under the headline “Shell goes to paradise in search of cheap biofuel” author Danny Fortson

Wall Street Journal per Shellnews.net article 8 February 2009 headlined “A gamble in Qatar” author Guy Chazan

Business Week article 7 July 2008 headlined “Public-Private Alliances to the Rescue” author Rachael King

The Earth Times 18 September 2008 under the headline “Shell and Motiva Contribute $4 million to Recovery Efforts in the Gulf Coast” no author name indicated

No author name (2008-09-25). “American Red Cross Receives $1 million from Shell…”Reuters. Retrieved on 2009-04-20.

Convenience Store News October 2008 under the headline “Shell, Redner’s Market Give Back” no author name indicated

Reuters article dated 18 November 2008 headlined “The Salvation Army Joins 3 Major Motor Oil Brands to Help Others During Holiday Season” no author name indicated

Houston Chronicle article 18 January 2009 headlined: “Volunteers in Houston honoring MLK by helping out”. Author Allan Turner

From Tree Canada website page “History”. No author name.

Reuters article 2 October 2008 headlined: “Tree Canada Awards Shell, TELUS and Lifford Wine Agency for Their Contributions to the Environment”.No author name.

Shell Canada website page headed: “Shell and Tree Canada plant more than 700,000 trees”. No author name.

Convenience Store News article headlined: “Shell Helps City Become Green”. No author name.

auto123.com article dated 16 April 2008 headlined: “Students break the mileage record set in 2007”. No author name.

auto123.com article 21 October 2008. No author name.

No author name (2009-03-27). “This Spring”Fox News per Shellnews.net. Retrieved on 2009-04-18.

No author name (2009-04-19). [http://www.shellnews.net/wikipedia/19April2009MarketWatch.pdf “2,757.1 MPG Achieved at 2009 Shell Eco-marathon

Americas”]. MarketWatch per Shellnews.net. Retrieved on 2009-04-19.

Financial Times per Shellnews.net article dated 9 March 2009 headlined “Senior Lib Dems ‘auction for power’”. Author Alex Barker.

Ishak, Amie PDH (2008-11-14). “Royal Check on Health Centre”Borneo Bulletin. Retrieved on 2009-04-17.

No author name (2008-11-14). “HM Visits State-Of-The-Art Health Promotion Centre”Borneo Bulletin. Retrieved on 2009-04-17.

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