Statoil tar sands: ‘If you have to speak thrice, there’s something wrong’ / News / The Foreigner

Statoil tar sands: ‘If you have to speak thrice, there’s something wrong’. Norway energy giant Statoil held its AGM amongst protests from a Canada indigenous peoples’ Chief and Norwegian environmentalists, Tuesday. The event at western Norway’s Stavanger Forum, was bedecked with canapés, suits, and beverages. It was held on the same day of an unrelated European Commission pan-national, multi-oil company raid on Statoil’s Stavanger headquarters. The Commission alleges Statoil, BP, and Royal Dutch Shell, have been engaged in oil price fixing.Destructive

statoiltarsands, oilsandscanada, globalwarming, climatechange, greenhousegases, environmentalists



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Statoil tar sands: ‘If you have to speak thrice, there’s something wrong’

Published on Wednesday, 15th May, 2013 at 19:00 under the news category, by Michael Sandelson   .
Last Updated on 15th May 2013 at 21:13.

Norway energy giant Statoil held its AGM amongst protests from a Canada indigenous peoples’ Chief and Norwegian environmentalists, Tuesday.

Dene Nation Chief  François Paulette
The Chief from northern Canada’s Dene Nation indigenous people speaking at Statoil's AGMDene Nation Chief François Paulette
Photo: ©2013 Michael Sandelson/The Foreigner


The event at western Norway’s Stavanger Forum, was bedecked with canapés, suits, and beverages.

It was held on the same day of an unrelated European Commission pan-national, multi-oil company raid on Statoil’s Stavanger headquarters. The Commission alleges Statoil, BP, and Royal Dutch Shell, have been engaged in oil price fixing.

Destructive

Environmentalists including Greenpeace Norway and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) held a peaceful and musical demonstration against Statoil’s Canadian tar sands project outside the AGM venue prior to the start.

At the centre of the external gathering was one person dressed in a polar bear costume near a block of ice. One sign in Norwegian, held by a group of people, read “don’t mess with the polar bears”.

Patchy sunny spells accompanied the pre-AGM protest outside. Environmentalists and some shareholders fear the consequences of Statoil’s oil sands project amongst the company’s thirst for profit and feeding the world’s growing energy demand, however.

The Foreigner briefly spoke with Arild Skedsmo at the WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature) about this.

“This is my fourth year at the AGM”, said Mr Skedsmo, “tar sands (bitumen) are the worst end of the petroleum sector. They’re not only a huge waste of resources, greenhouse gas emissions are huge, the impact on local nature is enormous, and the activity tramples on the indigenous people there and their rights.”

Arild Skedsmo
Arild Skedsmo
© Katrine Gjærum/WWF Norway
Energy for steam injection and refining is required when producing liquid fuel from the oil sands (the industry’s preferred term for the tar-looking bitumen). Greenhouse gas emissions from extraction and upgrading are 12 times higher than comparable quality crude oil from the North Sea.

Political and other opposition to Statoil’s oil sands activities, as well as its shale oil and gas ones, has been, and is still considerable. Statoil has also admitted breaching the Province of Alberta’s environmental laws in connection with the sands.

The Norwegian Church decided last year it would divest its shares in the company if Statoil shareholders voted in favour of proceeding with the project. Stockholders did.

Yesterday’s AGM vote was also a majority for, despite appeals to the contrary by Greenpeace Norway leader Truls Gulowsen. He owns four shares in Statoil, and asked stockholders support a previously-voiced other shareholders’ motion for the company to pull out.

Greenpeace had already written to Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg expressing their concern and asking him to do something as head of the state, which has a 67 per cent holding in Statoil.

"Just like other oil companies"

Chief François Paulette from northern Canada’s Dene Nation indigenous people also spoke at the AGM.

Accompanying him was Tina Lameman. The Canadian Supreme Court recently ruled Alberta-resident the Beaver Lake Cree Indian tribe can proceed with their lawsuit against the country’s authorities.

More than 20 companies have been granted access to the oil sands project in the Province, with proposed expansion, but without the tribe’s consent.

Oil sands in Canada (illustration photo)
Oil sands in Canada (illustration photo)
Øyvind Hagen/Statoil
Native American tribes in the area have possessed the legal right to engage in hunting, fishing, and logging since 1876.

However, the Beaver Lake Cree tribe says the oil sands are taking their livelihood away, despite promises of employment by companies.

“We don’t see any of that. To us, Statoil is just like the other oil companies. Nobody brings this to the fore in this area,” Ms Lameman told Stavanger Aftenblad.

Chief Paulette, who has been to Statoil’s Stavanger AGM twice before regarding the same oil sands issue, is also a type of spiritual leader for The First Nations, the various Aboriginal peoples in the country.

“We say that when you speak twice about a matter, that’s it,” he declared from auditorium’s podium. “When you speak a third time, there’s something wrong.

“The Canadian government has dismantled environmental protection legislation. Why is it that the people from Norway put up with Statoil in our country?” he asked.

A dangerous gamble

The Foreigner also talked with Greenpeace’s Truls Gulowsen about Statoil’s proposed Arctic drilling plans. This follows an open letter by an Alaska-resident Iñupiat Eskimo descendant to Statoil’s shareholders, expressing disquiet about the effects of an oil spill in the region.

“This [what he writes] fits our concerns exactly, which started when we spotted Statoil’s new Arctic strategy launched last August,” said Mr Gulowsen.

“We cannot understand why Statoil is willing to take a gamble with pollution, as well as human and environmental safety there. Firstly, it contains seven times more fossil fuels than we can burn, and then drilling would happen miles from the nearest oil spill prevention and rescue facilities.”

Truls Gulowsen at Statoil's 2013 AGM
Truls Gulowsen at Statoil's 2013 AGM
©2013 Michael Sandelson/The Foreigner
Statoil has many Arctic licences around the world. Some are with Russian state oil company Rosneft.

“They [Rosneft] have no offshore experience, just licences in icy areas. It’s crazy.”

Mr Gulowsen added that the type of drilling Statoil is planning is not even allowed on the Norwegian Continental Shelf.

“They claim they have Arctic experience with Snøhvit, but neither its remoteness nor the ice there is anything like up in the Arctic,” he said. “Both Shell and ConocoPhillips [who have postponed their Arctic drilling programmes] understand Alaska is tricky, especially in light of US regulatory supervision.”

Environmentalists agree that one of the best ways to prevent busting the two-degree global warming target, set at the COP15 Climate Summit in Copenhagen, is to leave two-thirds of fossil fuels in the ground. A global temperature rise of more than five degrees would lead to global chaos.

“Statoil seems to be run by people who are convinced all fossil fuels should be burned. This will put the temperature way above six degrees,” stated Mr Gulowsen.

“They’ve also been watching too many PowerPoint presentations showing that Arctic drilling is technically possible. These people should get out of their offices and in to the Arctic,” he concluded.



Published on Wednesday, 15th May, 2013 at 19:00 under the news category, by Michael Sandelson   .
Last updated on 15th May 2013 at 21:13.

This post has the following tags: statoiltarsands, oilsandscanada, globalwarming, climatechange, greenhousegases, environmentalists.





  
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