Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Shell Game

Well, at least they tried.

Shell Oil (that's Royal Dutch Shell PLC to you) tried to put a heavy coat of lipstick on its Tar Sands pig in UK advertisements, heralding the Athabasca project as "sustainable energy." That prompted the World Wildlife Federation to lodge a complaint with Britain's Advertising Standards Authority. From the Associated Press:

The advertisement focused on two of Shell's projects. One involves exploration in Canada's oil sands where bitumen, a tar-like form of petroleum, can be extracted and upgraded to synthetic crude oil. The ad also mentioned Shell's plan to build one of the United States' largest oil refineries in Texas.

“The challenge of the 21st century is to meet the growing need for energy in ways that are not only profitable but sustainable,” said Shell's full-page ad in the Financial Times.

The watchdog ruled that Shell breached regulations relating to substantiation, truthfulness and that the advertisement “was defined primarily in environmental terms.”

Citing a 2006 report by Canada's National Energy Board, the watchdog said the report claimed that the environmental impact of the country's oil sands projects were of major concern. Producing crude from bitumen can involve strip mining and generate more emissions than conventional crude.

“The ASA's decision to uphold WWF's complaint sends a strong signal to business and industry that greenwash is unacceptable,” said David Norman, the World Wildlife Federation's director of U.K. campaigns.

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