Shell rejects call to pull out of Syria

31st August 2011, Comments 0 comments

Oil giant Shell says it has no intention of unilaterally halting its activities in Syria. The director of Shell Nederland Dick Benschop made this announcement in response to an appeal from Dutch MPs. Labour, the Socialists, GreenLeft and the D66 Democrats all want Shell to pull out of the country where the regime is engaged in a brutal crackdown on pro-democracy protesters.

The Shell executive says withdrawing from Syria is only on the cards if the company becomes caught up in a conflict situation or human rights violations. He went on to argue that Shell would be endangering its own workforce, including Syrian employees, if it were to pull out now. “We have been part of a community for decades. We cannot simply drop everything and go.”

EU boycott Mr Benschop said Shell would halt its business activities in Syria if an EU boycott were in place. He pointed out that oil production in the country cannot be halted but he said Shell would abandon its share in the event of a boycott. Shell produces between 10,000 and 15,000 barrels of oil a day in Syria, out of a total of 3 million barrels a day.

The countries of the European Union are currently working on a boycott of oil products from Syria. A formal decision on the matter is expected at the end of the week.

In response to Mr Benschop’s statements, the D66 Democrats accused Shell of missing an opportunity to play a leading role. GreenLeft also issued a disappointed reaction. “Shell say they can’t do anything but if you ask me they don’t want to do anything,” said a spokeswoman.

dd © Radio Netherlands Worldwide

© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

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