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Big Oil, Big-Gas lobby against coal. Shell leans on World Bank to nobble the competition

Well, well, well. When Big-Oil fund skeptics, they’re evil polluters. When Big-Oil pay green lobbyists, they’re just being good citizens (see the ads, right?). Naturally Royal Dutch Shell are concerned about the environment, families, rare marsupials and what not. They wouldn’t just be green for the profit would they… oh, wait. Shell is one of the six gas “super majors” and all gas providers profit when coal is unfashionable. In terms of resources, Shell is now more of a gas company than an oil company.

Big-Gas loves wind turbines. Wind farms are fickle and coal power can’t ramp up and down quickly to fill in the gaps, but the more expensive gas can. No wonder Shell are lobbying actively against coal, and for wind.

Thanks in part to Shell’s campaign, the poor family in the Shell Ad are going to have to pay more to stay warm this winter. Meanwhile the marsupials will manage without Shell lobbyists like they have for the last 100 million years, and the environment won’t notice any effect from a carbon tax.

As with all cut-throat business deals, Shell (and others) are doing what they are supposed to do: make money. There is nothing illegal about lobbying. The real problem is the cherry picking, one-eyed, half truth campaign that “vested” interests are running a denial industry–as if there were not 5000 times as many vested interests benefiting from Climate Fear, and as if there were not a truckload of reasons for volunteers to rail against stupid spending, junk modeling, bad assumptions, and naked profiteering.

The worst of all are the dupe journalists who swallow and pump the mindless meme uncritically.

Shell really wants people to avoid coal

[The Australian] ROYAL Dutch Shell actively lobbied the World Bank to stop funding coal-fired plants before an announcement this year that the lender would dramatically reduce its support of coal, Australia’s second biggest export.

Shell’s head of gas, Maarten Wetselaar, said the energy giant had formed an advocacy department whose sole purpose was to convince governments and government-funded bodies to encourage gas as a power source over more polluting forms of energy, such as coal.

He said the company also was very active in reducing subsidies for coal in South Korea, the second biggest buyer of Australian coal.

Shell even worked on the World Bank — leaning on them to cut back their funding for new coal stations. Shell is making life harder for people in the third world who desperately need cheap coal powered electricity.

[The Australian] “We found out most coal plants get their funding started by using the bilateral funding agencies, such as the World Bank, so we were talking to them about the impact their policies have on the energy mix of the world,” Mr Wetselaar said.

In June, the World Bank and the US Export Import Bank said they would dramatically reduce their contributions to coal-fired power stations because of their high carbon emissions.

Big-Oil is in bed with Big-Green. No wonder the world is a mess.


“We don’t sell them (governments) gas, we sell them policy. The climate agenda is broader than just selling gas into the system, it’s about trying to give gas its rightful place in the global energy mix,” he said of the company’s advocacy group.

Big-Gas really wants more windmills

Windmills provide unreliable energy, and coal powered stations don’t switch and down quickly enough to take up the slack when the wind slows. Gas powered plants are more expensive but much better suited to changeable production. Each new solar or windmill farm is really a gas burner in disguise, because gas-fired electricity generating capacity has to be built to accompany each unreliable renewable — like a show-pony and a work horse.

Wall Street Journal Sept 11, 2008, Wind Fuels Gas By EDGAR GÄRTNER

Gas turbines … can be turned on and off almost instantly, whereas traditional coal-fired plants need to be maintained in a very inefficient standby mode if they are to respond to large fluctuations in power demand.

A proliferation of windmills, then, can become a windfall for gas sellers. Just look at the cases of Spain and Germany, Europe’s leading producers of wind power.

By the end of 2007 Spain had 14,700 megawatts (MW) of installed wind capacity, according to Enagás, which manages the national gas network, producing 8.7% of the country’s total power supplies. Most of these wind generators are located in scarcely populated areas, while the power consumption is concentrated in big cities with their many air-conditioned buildings. The peak load of the Spanish power grid is thus in the hot summer months —but this is precisely the time of year when there usually isn’t much wind.

For this reason, more and more gas turbines are being installed near consumers in the suburbs of Spain’s cities. Only last year, Spanish power providers added 6,400 MW of gas-turbine power capacity, taking the total installed capacity of gas turbines to 21,000 MW. Natural gas has become the main source of electricity generation in Spain, and  according to Enagás, 99.8% of the gas used in Spain is imported. Most of this comes via pipeline from Algeria, but the import of liquid natural gas (LNG) by ships will increase.

Most European countries force consumers to subsidize electricity from wind power. This makes “renewables” a very safe investment compared with other energy businesses, where swings in commodity prices can be large. As Europe’s big integrated oil and gas companies—such as Shell, BP and Total—invest more and more in LNG, they lobby hard for a world-wide carbon-emissions trading system that would further increase the advantage of gas over coal.

Just because there is an agenda, and an obvious profit at stake, doesn’t mean what tell us about the climate is wrong. After all, Shell would still behave this way if global warming really was due to CO2. What it does tell us, however, is that we need a science debate that’s free of junk claims about vested interests. What we also need is a policy debate that looks at all the vested interests equally, instead of pretending (against all the facts) that the small side is an ogre, while the billioned-up crew are doing it to save the planet.

The meme “Big Oil Funds Skeptics” is not just irrelevant and illogical, it’s wrong too.

Not just wrong, but diabolically misleading. For instance, WWF ‘s first corporate sponsorship was £10,000 gift from Shell in 1961, and soon after hired lawyers and began lobbying. Does Shell still fund WWF?  WWF campaigns against  the competitors of gas: coal, fracking, oil, ports in Queensland for coal exports, and so on. Just saying.

PS: Some edits and a source added for the last para.

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