This briefing compiles numerous examples of Shell fracking around the world, but does not claim to be an exhaustive list. By timing the release with Yoko Ono’s involvement in the Meltdown Festival at the Shell-sponsored Southbank Centre, we hope to:
- Increase awareness of the enormous role that Shell is playing in expanding fracking operations all over the world.
- Create political space amidst the cultural showcase of the Meltdown Festival to understand the role that sponsorship plays in creating social legitimacy and cover for Shell’s dangerous operations.
- Promote the creative, community resistance to fracking that is taking place all over the world, which is especially instructive in the context of the industry being poised to start fracking in numerous sites across the UK.
Download the briefing here or browse the online version below.
The era of relatively ‘easy to reach’ oil is over.
All fossil fuel extraction involves drilling and localised pollution, so none of it was ever ‘easy’ to reach. But global extraction levels for the oil that is comparatively straight forward to pump out of seems to have peaked. Instead, the fossil fuel industry is increasingly focusing on harder to extract resources. Enter ‘unconventionals’ – dirtier fossil fuels which are more complicated to extract and refine, like tar sands, oil shale and shale gas, or those that are located in hazardous and challenging regions like the Arctic, or deepwater drilling.
It is not surprising then, that an established oil and gas major like Shell is investing heavily in global fracking and other unconventionals. Shell is actively fracking or preparing to frack in every continent in the world, with CEO appearing on TV programmes to argue “why fracking is environmentally sound,” and accusing Europe of being “too emotional” on the issue.
Shell don’t only rely on their CEO in their PR efforts. It is also engaged in a multi-pronged sponsorship programme designed to help bolster its ‘social licence to operate’ – the company’s ability to keep drilling despite causing numerous environmental and human rights abuses. The construction of this ‘social licence to operate’ in effect provides cover for the company’s dirty and dangerous activities.
This briefing is also timed to coincide with the international Meltdown Festival taking place in June 2013 at the Southbank Centre in London. Every year, an artist of international repute curates the festival, and in 2013 that artist is Yoko Ono. Apart from an illustrious career spanning performance art, conceptual art and music that spans decades, Yoko Ono has also made headlines for her anti-fracking activism, while the Southbank Centre, which hosts the Meltdown Festival, is not only located next door to Shell’s London headquarters, but also has a long term history of accepting sponsorship from the oil company.