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Shell Sustainability Report: Waste Up 24%, Water Use Up 3%

Royal Dutch Shell’s waste production increased almost 24 percent year-on-year from 2 million metric tons in 2010 to 2.47 million metric tons in 2011, according to the company’s 2011 sustainability report.

That increase is down to a 61 percent rise in the company’s non-hazardous waste production, the lions share of its waste, which shot up from just over 1 million metric tons in 2010 to 1.7 million metric tons in 2011. The sustainability report does not detail any reasons for the increase. Shell’s hazardous waste production fell from 921,000 metric tons in 2010 to 740,000 metric tons in 2011, the sustainability report says.

In 2011, Shell’s freshwater use increased to 209 million cubic meters, from 202 million cubic meters in 2010, a 3.4 percent rise. Shell says this was primarily due to increased water consumption following the start of production at the Athabasca Oil Sands Project expansion in Canada. It is the second year in a row the company’s fresh water use has increased, but 2011’s figures are still far below usage levels in 2007 and 2008.

Shell’s direct greenhouse gas emissions from facilities were down about 3 percent from 2010 to 2011, as its income rose from $20.5 billion to $30.9 billion. In 2011, the company produced 74 million metric tons of direct greenhouse emissions on a CO2-equivalent basis, down from 76 million in 2010.

The 3 percent decrease is accompanied by varied fortunes in the company’s production – including a roughly 3 percent reduction in its oil and gas production. In 2011, Shell’s oil and gas production was 3.2 million barrels of oil equivalent a day, slightly down from 3.3 million in 2010. But the company increased its sales of liquefied natural gas by 12 percent, to 19 million metric tons in 2011.

Shell says the main reasons for the slight drop in its emissions is due to divestments in its downstream business – trade related to refining, selling and distribution – and reduced flaring of natural gas in Nigeria. Although onshore oil production in Nigeria rose by around 4 percent year-on-year, flaring emissions were down almost 20 percent, to 6.1 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent. Shell has attributed the decrease in Nigeria to an increase in the use of gas-gathering equipment and more controls brought online at sites that have higher levels of gas associated with oil production.

The indirect greenhouse gas emissions from the energy Shell purchased were 10 million metric tons of CO2e in 2011, the same as in 2010. Estimated CO2 emissions from the use of its products stood around 570 million metric tons in 2011, down around 15 percent from 670 million metric tons in 2010.

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