As a global oil and gas company, Shell has a murky history not just environmentally but politically. Yesterday we commemorated the death of environmental activist Ken Saro-Wiwa who was murdered for his campaigns against oil companies – and particularly Shell – in Nigeria back in 1995. Now, it has emerged that the oil company is funding university courses on water, energy and the environment in Jordan. What’s more, the funding is through the Jordan Oil Shale Company- a subsidiary of Shell that is currently exploring oil shale.
In the last couple of years Shell has drilled more than 100 oil wells in Jordan and signed an agreement aimed at exploring and potentially producing oil from Jordan’s vast oil shale resources. Although Jordan is relatively resource-poor it is believed to have around 40 billion metric tonnes of oil shale.
Oil Shale Is Environmentally Damaging
Oil shale is a controversial form of oil that is difficult to extract and often involves heating the oil out of reservoirs. It is expensive, energy intensive and damaging to the environment- it has also been linked to water pollution and water shortages.
With this in mind, it is quite hypocritical for an oil shale company to be funding courses on environmental issues and water. Personally, I am a strong believer in leading by example and it’s hard to imagine a Shell oil shale company setting a green example for anyone to follow.
Sustainable Development + Oil Shale= Greenwash?
According to various news reports, the Jordan Oil Shale Company (JOSCo) will be funding around 12 graduation projects at various Jordanian universities at the cost of JD 60,000. The projects will explore vital sectors like energy, water and environment. JOSCo’s general manager Thomas Meijssen told AmmonNews: “We believe in sustainable development principles and we hope that our contribution will help nurture local capabilities in the shale oil industry and other key industries in Jordan.”
Clearly, Shell and JOSCo see no clash between sustainable development and developing the oil shale industry. Or if they do, they think throwing money at the problem will make it go away.
:: Image via Atli Haroarson/flickr.
For more on oil shale and greenwash see: