Gap Score: -9.1
  • In 2013, Shell was less energy efficient in the production of oil and gas in its upstream business than in 2012, while its oil sands operations were slightly more efficient when compared to 2012 (6.5 gigajoules per tonne of production in 2013 compared to 6.6 gigajoules per tonne of production in 2012).

  • Shell’s total waste in 2013 was 2,835 thousand tonnes, down from 3,115 thousand tonnes in 2012. In 2013, the operational spills of oil and related products amounted to 0.9 thousand tonnes, down from 2.1 thousand tonnes in 2012.

  • Shell reduced its water consumption in 2013. Freshwater withdrawal was 198 million cubic meters in 2013, slightly lower than 203 million cubic meters in 2012.

  • For the second consecutive year, Shell received the Lloyd’s List Global Technological Innovation Award. In 2013, it was for Greenstream, the world’s first barge to be fully powered by liquefied natural gas.

Working Together

As stated in its 2013 Sustainability Report, Shell participates in key discussions between business, society, and government. In this capacity, the company is one of the founding members of the UN Global Compact. Shell works together with multiple environmental organizations to find solutions to address environmental issues, including the protection and enhancement of the environments around Shell’s operations. Partners include Earthwatch, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), The Nature Conservancy, and Wetlands International. The joint work of Shell and IUCN, the world’s largest conservation network, has focused on enhancing biodiversity conservation performance, strengthening the management of protected areas, advancing science, developing publicity policy, and improving general awareness. Shell’s partnership with The Nature Conservancy began 5 years ago and works to assess the potential to deploy natural systems such as oyster reefs and floating islands to help protect one of Shell’s pipelines in the Gulf of Mexico. These natural systems can serve as a breakwater and help to reduce coastal erosion.

The Green Advantage

While Shell deserves to be lauded for being the only oil company on our Best Global Green Brands list, media and nonprofit organizations continue to raise questions about the sustainability of Shell’s activities. Amnesty International alleges that Shell has been misreporting oil spill amounts in Nigeria and, in the Arctic region, Shell’s exploratory expeditions faced repeated mishaps, which, under pressure from environmental organizations, led the brand to put its plans to drill in the Arctic on hold. This kind of media attention could negatively affect sentiment and call Shell’s status as a green brand leader into question. Still, Shell is one of the top three companies with large reputational contributions to shareholder value, as assessed in a study done by intangible assets specialists Reputation Dividend Ltd. With smart public and investor relations, Shell has managed to influence the perception of the company by placing environment and nature as focus points of its corporate communications. Shell also works on sustainable innovations and cooperates with various environmental organizations to protect the environment. In the final analysis, while it can be said that Shell’s sustainable performance remains debatable in some areas, the company’s effective communication strategies along with its sustainable innovations and activities to protect the environment continue to safeguard Shell’s reputation and keep it on our list.


Shell halts Arctic drilling
Reputation doubles shareholder value—study lists Shell in top three