Posted by keith on December 15th, 2008
Wow! Now here’s a challenge: you are the head of a huge oil company in a world of rising temperatures, falling profits and peak oil, and somehow you have to keep three entirely different and contrary balls in the air at the same time:
1) Your company exists to make profit; if you don’t make a profit then your shareholders will go elsewhere, your company will fail and you will be out of a job, as well as a great deal of once valuable share options – you have to be profitable;
2) The lifeblood of your industry – oil – is running out, not just a bit, but really running out, as demand increases, reserves peter out and new industrial powerful nations try to buy what is left from your rivals – you have to find oil;
3) The climate is changing and you are partly responsible, in fact you and your cohorts in the oil industry are most definitely responsible for a sizeable chunk of both the heating of the Earth and its avoidable destruction; your reputation is getting dirtier by the hour – you need to look green
Tough, isn’t it? The temptation is to say, “Oh, forget it, it’s only money, we can do things another way!” But you won’t because there is no such thing as only money: money is everything, it is what makes you what you are, it defines your place in civilization and no crap about the environment or peak oil is going to stop that!
The great thing is, there is some oil left, but it’s damn hard to get to, and horrifically dirty – easily as dirty as coal. It’s called Oil Sands, or Tar Sands (far more accurate). Uh-oh! We seem to have made a bit of a mess with our initial foray into this venture – we need a nice little euphemism to change the public’s perception…
That sounds nicer – it’s amost as though the public need to help us with our problem; like we need some sympathy with our plight – gosh, this “Difficult Oil” is really important, can we rely on your support to get it out of the ground?
A nice video, that’s the ticket:
[Scene: Shell Man and Journalist driving through Indonesian (?) paddy field in 4 wheel drive]
Shell Man: “You know, a century ago this whole area was just a swamp. In those days it would have taken oil workers weeks just to do this journey.”
Journalist: “Nothing stands in the way of progress, right?”
SM: (threateningly) “Just like facts don’t stand in the way of a good story.”
SM: “We all know easily accessible oil is a thing of the past. The challenge now is to get those reserves we know about and yet haven’t been able to reach. Reserves that would otherwise just go to waste.”
(cut to shot of snake fleeing path of vehicle)
(The video then goes through a convoluted story of Shell Man and his estranged son (a nice domestic touch) leading to the discovery of bendy pipes to drill oil.)
And we all love Shell for making sure we have oil for another generation. What a pity they don’t mention the millions of people and the countless species that will be killed in their insatiable thirst for oil and money; the irreversible global climatic change that will result from their profit greed; the twisted mess of a planet that we will end up with if Shell are allowed to carry on lying to us.
Don’t believe the bullshit: Shell are only doing it for the money!