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The Independent “in association with Shell”

I rubbed my eyes, but the logo didn’t disappear. The Independent newspaper article had a graphic explaining that the article was “in association with Shell” :-

Further clue : the author was Tom Burke, “Mr Clean Coal” to those of us that know of him.

The article was great, up until the paragraph :-

“Without deploying carbon capture and storage technologies for coal and gas, Europe has no workable climate policy…”

Well, we knew Tom Burke was going to say that, didn’t we ?

But why was the article “in association with Shell” ? Is this the start of advertising masquerading as opinion articles ?

What could possibly link Royal Dutch Shell to Carbon Capture and Storage ? The “Enhanced Oil Recovery” (EOR) angle, possibly – Shell offering to pump Carbon Dioxide down into its depleting oil and gas wells in an attempt to raise the pressure on the remaining hydrocarbon, to squeeze it out.

Also – if Shell are going to diversify out of Petroleum and Natural Gas, they need to be doing something to do with Energy – how about offering to pump Carbon Dioxide underground on behalf of the Coal-burning power plant companies, as Coal will be the only fuel left in North-West Europe after the North Sea is significantly depleted of Oil and Gas… ?

Are you beginning to get with the programme here ? This article is ostensibly about the transition to the Low Carbon Economy – but is really all about selling the idea that Royal Dutch Shell should be paid to pump Greenhouse Gas underground – “The EU has already committed several billion euros to meeting this challenge…” as the article points out.

So…is Carbon Capture and Storage actually an excuse for the failing oil and gas companies to beg for public money for “green stimulus” ?

Is CCS just a springboard for a massive bailout of Shell, BP and ExxonMobil ?

Carbon Capture and Storage is always going to be expensive – capturing and pumping Carbon Dioxide underground will take make the plants burn more Coal fuel – and although there are a number of small-scale projects around the world, CCS may never make the jump to being a widely-used technology.

However, I’m sure BP, Shell and ExxonMobil would love to have government and EU money thrown at them to dig big holes and build big pumps and pipelines – that’s their current bread-and-butter in engineering.

When Tom Burke writes, “Only when the ratio of low carbon to high carbon energy investments is clearly changing in Europe and the United States will the rest of the world take our talk of climate change seriously”, although that’s a good piece of logic, underneath it all, what he’s really urging is public money budgets being poured into the new energy systems that the industrialised countries needs.

But, where’s the capital ? Surely BP, Shell and ExxonMobil, who have been making packets of varying sizes in the last decade, can put some of their own money into New Energy ?

It can’t be that all the Oil and Gas institutional pension fund shareholders are going to pull all their funds out tomorrow ? I doubt it.

A recession is a great time to start a new phase of investment, while shareholders are not expecting huge returns on prior holdings, as the general market is depressed.

We don’t need Carbon Capture and Storage, as other solutions to avoid Carbon Dioxide emissions to air will be much more efficient :-

Carbon Capture and Storage applied to the tailpipes of coal-burning power plants is simply going to eat more Coal fuel, and there are signs that the supply of good quality Coal is stressed – so CCS could get progressively more expensive.

Plus, mining dirtier and dirtier Coal to feed into power plants fitted with Carbon Capture and Storage facilities will create increasing local environmental pollution.

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