Shell defends environment policy from Pirc attack

Shell, the Anglo-Dutch oil giant, yesterday launched an unusually outspoken defence of its business practices, urging shareholders to reject a special resolution proposed for its annual general meeting by investors critical of its environmental policies.

John Jennings, chairman of the corporation's UK-based arm, Shell Transport and Trading, said he was disappointed with the resolution, which has been drafted by the shareholders' advisory and pressure group, Pirc. The attack is likely to be viewed as another indication of Shell's drive towards greater transparency, shedding its sometimes secretive public image.

Clearly frustrated that Pirc had decided to press on with the assault despite earlier meetings with Shell management, he said: "We rather take exception to the resolution. We believe it demonstrates an incomplete knowledge of what's already being done."

Last night the chances of Pirc withdrawing the resolution seemed remote. Stuart Bell, the organisation's research director, said: "If the company can demonstrate that all the elements are being dealt with then clearly there's no reason to push on with the resolution. But at our last meeting with Shell, which was just two weeks ago, they gave us no indication that this was the case."

The resolution, to be put to the AGM on 14 May, calls on Shell to put a single, named director in charge of environmental and corporate policies, to appoint external auditors to review the policies and to publish a report for shareholders specifically on the company's operations in Nigeria. Pirc said its move had been supported by more than 100 shareholders, speaking for just under 1 per cent of Shell shares.

The resolution follows the worldwide criticism of Shell's reluctance to take a public stand in 1995 against the Nigerian regime's execution of the Ogoni leader, Ken Saro Wiwa. The group also faced controversy over its plans, later abandoned, to dump the Brent Spar oil platform at sea.

In an attempt to head off a wider shareholder revolt, Mr Jennings appeared to offer significant concessions yesterday. He said Shell aimed to publish a group-wide report outlining the conclusions of a long-running environmental review before the AGM. "I don't see the need for the resolution at all," he said. "It's not the right way for ensuring a business is run properly."

He also insisted that most of the criticisms were already being tackled. In particular, he revealed that Shell was experimenting with outside environmental audits in some parts of its empire, which included the Nigerian and British operations. But he declined to say which firms of auditors were taking part or which parts of the group were affected. He also added that few auditors had sufficient expertise of environmental work.

Pirc, which has been backed by the Church-based shareholders' organisation, the Ecumenical Council for Corporate Responsibility, said it was nonsense for Shell to argue that it had received no prior warning that the resolution would be tabled. "If they are doing all the things in the resolution, why aren't they supporting the resolution?" said Mr Bell.

Shell Transport's annual report for shareholders, published today, also revealed that Mr Jennings' total pay package rose last year by more than 9 per cent to pounds 677,703. His basic salary rose from pounds 470,776 to pounds 496,322, while his performance-related bonus went up by pounds 28,000 to pounds 124,000. Mark Moody-Stuart, group managing director, saw his total pay rise by more than 6 per cent to pounds 510,002.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

SThree: Talent Acquisition Consultant

£22500 - £27000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: Since our inception in 1986, STh...

Recruitment Genius: Experienced Financial Advisers and Paraplanners

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This extremely successful and well-established...

Guru Careers: FX Trader / Risk Manager

Competitive with monthly bonus: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced FX...

Guru Careers: Investment Writer / Stock Picker

Competitive (Freelance) : Guru Careers: An Investment Writer / Stock Picker is...

Day In a Page

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map
Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

This was the year of 24-carat Golden Oldies
Paris Fashion Week

Paris Fashion Week

Thom Browne's scarecrows offer a rare beacon in commercial offerings
A year of the caliphate:

Isis, a year of the caliphate

Who can defeat the so-called 'Islamic State' – and how?
Marks and Spencer: Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?

Marks and Spencer

Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?
'We haven't invaded France': Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak

'We haven't invaded France'

Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak
Isis in Kobani: Why we ignore the worst of the massacres

Why do we ignore the worst of the massacres?

The West’s determination not to offend its Sunni allies helps Isis and puts us all at risk, says Patrick Cockburn
7/7 bombings 10 years on: Four emergency workers who saved lives recall the shocking day that 52 people were killed

Remembering 7/7 ten years on

Four emergency workers recall their memories of that day – and reveal how it's affected them ever since
Humans: Are the scientists developing robots in danger of replicating the hit Channel 4 drama?

They’re here to help

We want robots to do our drudge work, and to look enough like us for comfort. But are the scientists developing artificial intelligence in danger of replicating the TV drama Humans?
Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

'Heritage' is a loaded word in the Dixie, but the Charleston killings show how dangerous it is to cling to a deadly past, says Rupert Cornwell
What exactly does 'one' mean? Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue

What exactly does 'one' mean?

Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue