Shell snubs climate case verdict and continues drilling for more

Amsterdam, September 30, 2022 – Despite the ongoing climate crisis, Shell continues to develop new oil and gas assets. Since the judge’s ruling in court last May, Shell has made definitive investments in 10* assets. Shell's share of the oil and gas from these assets, once burned, will result in 325 million metric tonnes of CO2 emissions. Shell also (co-)owns more than 750 untapped oil and gas assets**, which would amount to 4.3 billion metric tonnes of extra CO2; 30 times more than the total emissions from the Netherlands in 2021. A study conducted by Oil Change International and published in co-operation with Friends of the Earth Netherlands clearly shows that Shell is continuing to cause dangerous climate change, putting human lives at risk.

Nine de Pater, lead campaigner at Friends of the Earth Netherlands: "After a summer marked by heat waves in India, flooding in Pakistan and extreme drought across Europe, it’s inconceivable that Shell should continue to endanger human lives. The study has shown that, despite the climate case ruling, Shell is developing new oil and gas fields and is still drilling. Shell really needs to change direction if we are to stop dangerous climate change."

Shell’s future emissions

The publication shows that if Shell were to extract all the oil and gas from the fields it is currently operating in ***, this would lead to 7.4 billion metric tonnes of CO2 when burned. On top of that there will be additional emissions from every new oil and gas field that Shell starts to develop.

Kelly Trout, research co-director at Oil Change International:Every new extraction project Shell approves digs the world into a deeper hole of climate crisis, and the company’s relatively meager investments in renewable energy do not make up for that. Peer reviewed research shows that as much as 40% of the fossil fuel reserves in fields and mines already producing or under construction must stay in the ground to keep 1.5°C in reach. At a bare minimum, Shell must end exploration and development of new oil and gas extraction to even begin to align its activities with 1.5°C.”

Even if Shell decided not to develop a single new oil or gas field, it will still not be guaranteed to comply with the court ruling. This is because around two thirds of Shell's emissions do not stem from the fossil products that Shell has produced itself, but from, for example, the processing and sale of oil derived from third parties. The court has demanded a significant reduction in emissions from these processes too.

Nine de Pater: "If there’s one thing this report makes clear, it’s that Shell has no intention of taking the judge's ruling seriously. The amount of carbon emissions that Shell is responsible for is only increasing. And so is global warming."

Shell’s focus remains on fossils

Shell is projected to invest an annual average of just over USD 7 billion in the development of new oil and gas fields, between now and 2030. This is in stark contrast to the USD 2.6 billion projected for Shell's renewable energy business segment in 2022. Especially considering this budget not only covers sustainable energy like solar and wind, but also natural gas and nature based solutions. What’s more, Shell rarely achieves its sustainability targets.

New projects around the globe

Since the verdict, Shell has given the green light to investments for expanded drilling in various countries including Argentina, Australia and Brazil. Shell has further indicated that it plans to spend around USD 1.5 billion annually on exploration through to 2025****.

Despite Shell’s promise of economic development in the country itself, there is strong local resistance.

Avena Jacklin, Friends of the Earth South Africa: "25 years after Shell left Ogoniland in Nigeria, it continues to ooze oil from wellheads and pipelines into the Niger Delta, creating a wasteland with barren farmlands and abandoned fishing villages once dependent on its water, killing wetland life and weakening climate resilience. Shell is deviating from climate commitments and continues to extract massive profits from countries in the South, leaving them to suffer the burden of conflict, inequality and environmental crises. We are experiencing the effects of climate change now and it is intensifying. Increases in methane emissions, and contamination of our critical water supplies from Shell’s operations will exacerbate the climate crisis, and Africa is particularly vulnerable."

Natalia Salvático, spokesperson Friends of the Earth Argentina: "Any claims about environmental protection are completely at odds with this type of exploitation, which is being intensified due to war in Europe and solidifying Argentina‘s role as a supplier of raw materials. Fracking takes extractivism to the next level, undermining any chance for an energy transition based on justice, appropriate technologies and energy sovereignty."

Cam Walker, spokesperson for Friends of the Earth Australia: "Shell is ignoring volumes of climate science and pushing ahead with plans to develop the Crux gas field off Western Australia's Kimberley coast. This is bad for the climate and bad for local marine environments. Shell also continues to claim that gas is a 'transition' fuel . With many clean renewable energy alternatives, the 'gas for transition' argument is outdated and only serves to prop up further development of fossil gas, which has a heavy climate footprint."

Shell also wants to expand its gas extraction activities in the Netherlands. If the Dutch government grants the oil giant a permit this year, Shell will be allowed to start drilling in the Wadden Sea from 2023.

Nine de Pater:The Friends of the Earth Netherlands report shows that Shell is continuing to exacerbate the climate crisis. We intend to make this clear to the judges in the Appeals Court. The damage caused by gas and oil addiction is apparent everywhere in the world. Fortunately, resistance is growing and activists, from the Dutch Wadden Islands to Australia and Argentina, are showing that it doesn’t have to be this way."


*Malaysia (3 fields), USA (2), UK, Australia, Argentina, Norway and Brazil

**In order to examine the emissions and investment implications of Shell’s current oil and gas extraction activities and potential expansion plans, the researchers used the Rystad database. This is used by the oil industry itself for market analysis.

*** This accounts for already producing fields as well as those currently under construction – all of the assets for which Shell has made a final investment decision as of September 2022.