Oil major Royal Dutch Shell is planning to take a group of socially responsible investors to visit its controversial operations in Nigeria in the near future.
The trip will enable investors to get the “touch and feel” of what’s happening on the ground, Tjerk Huysinga, the company’s Vice President of Investor Relations Europe told the ESG Europe 2012 Conference organised by Responsible-Investor.com.
It follows similar visits in recent years by SRI investors to the company’s oil sands and biofuels operations in Alberta, Canada and Brazil respectively.
The trip will allow investors to see for themselves the “multiple truths” of Shell’s operations in the country, Huysinga said – explaining that it is a very complex situation that is difficult to summarise in media reports.
The trips, which receive a lot of positive feedback from investors, include sell-side analysts who can use it for written research. Presentations from the trips are available on the Shell website.
Marcel Jeucken, Head of Responsible Investment at €121bn Dutch pension fund PGGM, said on the samepanel that the trips are “very enlightening”. He visited Shell’s oil sands operations in Canada a few years ago, which gave international investors the opportunity to meet local institutional investors and industry groups. “I think what Shell is doing is very good,” Jeucken said.
The trip comes against the background of the US Supreme Court’s review of the Alien Tort Statute (ATS) in the context of the prominent Kiobel v Shell legal case which relates to the company’s controversial past in Nigeria.
It also comes as the company has started drilling in the Beaufort Sea off northern Alaska.
Last year Shell cut the link between executive bonuses and the Dow Jones Sustainability Index, after it was deleted from the index in 2010 in the wake of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill which roiled rival BP. In 2011 it was again omitted from the DJSI because the operations of Shell companies in Nigeria – although Shell contends its score “was well above the threshold for inclusion”. Shell’s SRI page