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Introduction from the CEO

Peter Voser, Chief Executive Officer (photo)


Welcome to the Shell Sustainability Report for 2011.

It was a year of continued economic turbulence that once again showed how placing sustainable development at the core of our business decisions is the right approach. This means putting consideration for safety, the environment and communities at the centre of the steps we take to design, build and operate major energy projects. The energy we provide must be produced and delivered in the right way.

Sustainability depends on our ability to build resilience into our plans and operations. We have to make sure Shell remains able to tackle future challenges so that we, in turn, can continue to make a positive contribution to society. We know that doing business responsibly helps us achieve this through greater productivity and by creating benefits for all. We can deliver our projects more effectively, increase production faster, supply our customers with products more efficiently, and create supply chains and jobs for local businesses. It is a situation where everyone wins.

Global challenges

With tough economic conditions prevailing, and momentous social change taking place in some countries, the world must not lose sight of longer-term challenges.

There are now 7 billion people in the world, and we are on our way to 9 billion by 2050. In the decades to come, major economies will continue to consume energy to grow. In developing countries many people will become wealthier, buying their first television, refrigerator or car. In short, the world will need more energy.

Fossil fuels will still provide the bulk of this energy with, we believe, a greater role to play for cleaner-burning natural gas. Renewable energy, including low-carbon biofuels for transport, will also increase steadily. But Shell believes we cannot view energy supply and demand in isolation. As the world becomes more crowded, the stresses between the essentials of life – water, food and energy – will become more critical. Energy production needs water, and providing enough water and food to sustain people needs energy. Climate change is likely to intensify the stresses.

These are huge, integrated challenges and there is no time to waste if the world is to tackle them effectively. Yet the relationship between government, business and civil society is struggling to work. To build a sustainable energy system, we need a new level of collaboration and leadership to develop workable policies and solutions. We need vision and action. Major companies like ours can help encourage the global co-operation needed across public and private sectors, and across industries.

At Shell we believe that responsibly delivering cleaner, more reliable and affordable energy is the best contribution we can make today to a more stable world where economies can thrive. To do this we work with others including communities, other companies, governments, consumers and non-governmental organisations. But we know there is much work to do to meet the challenges of building a sustainable energy future.

Safety and principles

After the BP Deepwater Horizon tragedy in 2010, the energy industry rightly came under intense scrutiny. For Shell, safety remains our top priority. Our standards are rigorous. If things do not go as planned we respond swiftly and decisively, and we investigate all incidents to learn and improve our performance.

We prepare thoroughly to prevent incidents. In 2012, we intend to start exploration drilling in waters off Alaska. We have worked closely with communities, coastguards and regulatory authorities to put the necessary safeguards in place. This collaborative effort has been invaluable.

We believe transparency in our operations helps build trust. In Nigeria, for example, the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) launched a website in 2011 that enables people to track details of oil spills at its facilities, whether from operations or due to sabotage or theft, and how it deals with them. Nigeria faces many challenges. The best way to address them is a multi-party approach by government, communities, industry and others. SPDC is ready to play a key role in such an approach.

Shell was a founding member of the UN Global Compact and we support its principles in human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption. We are also a signatory to the Global Compact LEAD, which reinforces the commitment of business to these principles. In this report you can read about our progress in these areas.

Once again I would like to thank the members of the External Review Committee for their valued contributions in producing the Sustainability Report 2011.

I also invite you to send your comments on the report to:

Peter Voser
Chief Executive Officer