The e-mail campaign against Shell doing business with the Syrian regime goes inernational. Below you will find the URL and a Q & A about why we are doing this campaign.
Questions and Answers greetingsfromsyria.org
What are Shell’s activities in Syria?
Shell has been present in Syria since the 1940s. Since 1984, the company has played an important role in the exploration of oil fields in Syria and the extraction of oil. Together with the state-owned General Petroleum Company, Shell owns Al Furat Petroleum Company. Shell is not active in refining or exporting oil, it sells all its crude oil to the General Petroleum Company.
Why does this campaign target Shell?
Shell is one of the main international investors that cooperate with the Syrian government. Shell was one of the first multinationals to commit itself to Corporate Responsibility guidelines and the company has been in dialogue with NGOs since the 1990s. Therefore Shell is a logical target to approach first, but it is not the only target. Other companies such as Total will also be addressed. We believe that measures by large multinationals such as Shell will send a strong signal to the Syrian government.
Which organizations support this campaign?
The international peace movement Pax Christi, with more than 100 member organisations all around the world is one of the supporters of the campaign. Another supporter is the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network, a network of 60 human rights organisations and institutes. Other organisations are welcome to join.
Where does Shell petrol go?
Shell sells all its crude oil to the state-owned General Petroleum Company. About 61% of Syrian oil production is destined for the local market. That means that Shell oil is probably used by the Syrian army, Syrian security services and other government institutions. It is therefore likely that the Syrian tanks that shell Syrian civilians use petrol extracted by Shell.
How important is Shell for the Syrian government?
Out of the 17.8 billion USD of the Syrian government’s 2011 budget, 4 billion USD come from oil revenues. About 80% of the revenues of Shell’s extraction projects go to the Syrian state. If Shell didn’t operate its existing fields, this would represent a cut of 5.8% – 8.1% in the Syrian government’s budget.
How important is the oil sector for the Syrian government?
Currently the role of the oil sector and Shell as part of that, weighs even heavier. The income from oil is paid in hard foreign currencies that are crucial now for the Syrian authorities to protect the value of the local currency and to import arms and other materials. Oil revenues are paid in large chunks directly to the government, which makes them more attractive for them than for example the income from tourism which is spread across the economy. Moreover, the tourism sector, that contributed to 15% of Syrian GPD in 2010, has collapsed completely. That adds to the relative importance of oil revenues.
Since the popular uprising started in March, 19 sales of crude oil cargos to companies such as Shell, Total and BP have been documented.
How important are the activities in Syria for Shell?
Shell describes its work in Syria as a “risk factor” for the company, because the US has already placed sanctions on the country since years. In recent years Shell’s market share in the Syrian oil production has decreased from 8% in 2005 to 5.9% in 2009.5 The end of Syria’s oil resources is within sight. Compared to other countries, Syria’s oil fields are relatively small. Unless new oil fields are found or unless Shell invests in other sectors, the future of the company in Syria is limited.
What do Shell’s Business Principles say?
Shell’s website says: “We believe companies have a role to help support fundamental human rights in line with the legitimate role of business. Our General Business Principles include our aims to respect the rights of our employees and to support fundamental human rights in line with the legitimate role of business. The updated Code of Conduct says: “Conducting our activities in a manner that respects human rights as set out in the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the core conventions of the International Labour Organisation supports our license to operate”. Principle 6 of Shell’s General Business Principles states: “Shell companies aim to be good neighbors by continuously improving the ways in which we contribute directly or indirectly to the general wellbeing of the communities in which we work.” And Principle 4 confirms that “(…)when dealing with governments, Shell companies have the right and the responsibility to make our position known on any matters, which affect us, our employees, our customers, our shareholders or local communities in a manner, which is in accordance with our values and the Business Principles.”