Shell Leaves Oil Sands With $8.5B Sale And $1.35B In Taxpayer Funds

David Krayden Ottawa Bureau Chief
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Shell Oil is leaving the petroleum-rich Alberta oil sands  — but only after selling its share in the massive petroleum exploration project to Canadian Natural Resources for $8.5 billion and grabbing another $1.35 billion in taxpayer money for work on “carbon capture” technology.

According to a report Sunday from Rebel Media, that might explain why the global petroleum giant was effusive in its praise of the Alberta government’s carbon tax proposal, a tax on gasoline that would have once been unthinkable in a province that has traditionally been the conservative heartland of Canada but that elected a quasi-socialist government in the last provincial election in what was seen as a huge upset and protest vote.

When the carbon tax was first announced by Alberta Premier Rachel Notley, Shell oil executives shared the limelight and their praise for the province’s environmental policies with Greenpeace activists, leading many political observers to wonder what was up, especially since the government was pushing for a 100 megaton restriction on carbon emissions — something that would certainly hamper tapping the petroleum jackpot in the oil sands.

Shell’s Canadian director Michael Crothers became a virtual spokesman for the New Democratic provincial government, recently saying after the U.S. presidential election, “If Trump does not go down the path of a carbon tax, we should not lose our resolve. We should stick to our values as Canadians to do something to protect the environment.”

Crothers refused to consider the financial cost of a carbon tax on Shell, suggesting environmental stewardship outweighed the capitalistic profit margin.

“It’s certainly material, but it’s something that we feel is manageable depending on how the revenues are deployed,” said Crothers.

One aspect of Shell’s environmental corporate conscience is its work the Quest project, carbon capture technology that was added to its Edmonton-area Scotford Refiner in 2015 that will trap one-third of the emissions from the facility. Shell received $745 million from provincial taxpayers for their work and another $120 million from the federal Trudeau government.

Shell was boasting about increasing capacity at the refinery by 20 percent just two months ago.

Shell had decided to back out of the oil sands project shortly after it decided to back the carbon tax.

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