The writing on the wall

Submitted by Anon on 18 June, 2003 - 1:00
  • Shell shocks
  • BP rising
  • In the red
  • Evening Standard stupidity watch

Shell shocks

Shell may or may not be the greener than green oil company, but it is certainly not whiter than white. At the beginning of this year Shell announced that it had overstated its "proven" oil and gas reserves by about 20 per cent, or 4 billion barrels. A catastrophe, which led to the resignation of chairman Sir Philip Watts.

According to City analysts Shell has been performing badly for years - it just hasn't been very good at choosing where to plant its drills. Watts unfortunately was Head of Exploration and Production from 1996 to 2001, when the mistakes were made.

But who's now paying for Shell's corporate chaos? The oil workers, of course!

1,000 workers in Nigeria, one of the countries at the centre of the company's reserves scandal, and Shell's biggest area of operation, are to lose their jobs.

Watts also headed the group's Nigerian operation in the early 90s. On the face of it the Nigerian job losses have nothing to do with Watts' perceived incompetence - all the foreign oil companies are facing demands for hundreds of millions of dollars to be repaid to the Nigerian government over the way they have used a reserves addition bonus scheme. But, heh, something's got to give.

BP rising

Meanwhile, over at BP, business is booming. Lord Browne, the chief executive of the company, had a 22% increase in earnings last year, bringing his total pay to just under £5 million. Browne also has a pension pot worth nearly £14 million. Naturally BP defended the pay increases: net income at the oil company had risen by 42% last year to reach a record of £6.8 billion.

BP does its highly profitable business while also, like Shell, claiming to care about the environment and to support human rights.

BP's area of human rights expertise is in China, where it has oil and chemicals divisions and has invested $580 million in Petrochina, China's largest oil company, a subsidiary of the state-owned China National Petroleum Corporation.

Petrochina is accused of profiting from human rights abuses in Tibet and Sudan and is responsible for the building of the Sebei-Langhou gas pipeline through eastern Tibet which will allow China to appropriate Tibet's mineral wealth.

(From Corporate Watch

In the red

Shell's potential indebtedness is nothing compared to that of us. In 2004 the total British personal debt will be £1,000,000,000,000 (a million million pounds). That's £17,000 for every man woman and child in the UK. The level of debt has more than doubled since Labour came to power.

Evening Standard stupidity watch

The Evening Standard's comment on the proposed new statute for Trafalgar Square: "So, is this really what we want on Trafalgar Square's empty plinth?" The proposal is to put on display for 18 months a plaster cast of eight-month pregnant, disabled artist, Alison Lapper.

Yes, please. Better than that disabled-bodied member of the ruling class in a military uniform any day. Much rather a representation of an extraordinary ordinary woman who was taken from her mother at six weeks, expected to die in infancy and told by doctors she would survive as a "cabbage" in a wheelchair.

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