Our Work Biodiversity Shell breaks its 10 year promise not to develop World Heritage Sites

Shell breaks its 10 year promise not to develop World Heritage Sites

The evidence of damage to the Great Barrier Reef continues to mount. This article by Andrew Jeremijenko provides further documentation. DEA has worked behind the scenes on this issue, corresponding with UNESCO on the impacts of coal mining on the catchments and the reef and by writing to Minister Burke.

Shell is breaking a biodiversity promise to “not explore for, or develop oil and gas resources in World Heritage Sites” as the world watches and wonders if the Great Barrier Reef will be put on the In Danger list.

There is no more public and embarrassing way for Shell to break its promise then on this world wonder site as it is considered for listing.  Their environmental reputation is being risked by continuing to push ahead with the Arrow LNG plant on Curtis Island.  People may presume that Shell is a company that can’t be trusted to protect world heritage sites. Changing the name from Shell LNG to Arrow LNG is not going to protect their credibility when they own 50% of the venture.

UNESCO stated in the mission report ANNEX X “It is noted that the leading commitment to the principle of World Heritage Sites not being subject to extractive industry is the 2003 biodiversity commitment of Shell, which states that ‘We will not explore for, or develop, oil and gas resources in natural World Heritage Sites.’  As the leading industry practice this provides a policy benchmark that does not on first analysis appear to be met by the Curtis Island location having been selected. ”

The Great Barrier Reef is a tourism icon, a world wonder and part of Australia’s identity and Shell by breaking its promise at this time when the world is watching is embarrassing the whole industry.   It should either say to the other companies we should not be doing this, or it should state they will no longer abide by the biodiversity commitment.  You can’t have the commitments in some parts of the world but not in other parts.

The environmental approvals may be given in a month or two and the final investment decision will most likely be taken before the end of the year.   Shell reaffirmed its promise in 2012, while at the same time secretly preparing to break it with the Arrow LNG.

Is Shell continuing to ask for approvals for something they will not do?  Are they breaking the decade long biodiversity promise, and just hoping no-one has realised it?    Perhaps they are waiting for the Great Barrier Reef to be put on the “In Danger” list and removed from World Heritage Listing so that they can build Arrow LNG without breaking their promise?  We should tell Shell, that we want to keep Curtis Island and the Great Barrier Reef, a World Heritage Site and their persistence in getting approvals despite their promise, is not helping us.

See below for further reading.


Copies of correspondence:

Letter to Royal Dutch Shell 22-1-2013

Reply from Shell Australia 5-2-13



Companies dump dredge in the Great Barrier Reef – CQ News

Australia: Greens Release New Dredging Figures for Great Barrier Reef

We must unite to save Great Barrier Reef – The Observer

Great Barrier Reef could be stripped of heritage status