Late this evening, an email arrived in my inbox that looked rather believable. The text of the email stated that:
EthicalOil.org has expanded efforts to identify the Canadian oil industry as the world’s most ethical by calling on the federal government to ban companies active in conflict oil regions from operating in Canada.
I jumped the gun and tweeted it, but I have since confirmed with both EthicalOil.org Director Alykhan Velshi and with Ethical Oil author Ezra Levant that the press release is a fake. I’ll be interested to find out who’s behind it.
As a hoax, I expect it will be effective. It raises an important question which I have raised since the launch of the much-talked-about ad campaign – What does “Ethical Oil” say about companies, including many prominent Canadian companies, which choose to operate in these “conflict oil” regions?
Many of the companies operating in the oilsands also have operations in regions featured in the Ethical Oil campaign. Among others, Shell has a long history in Nigeria and, along with Total, recently committed to shut down operations in Iran, Suncor has operations in Libya acquired via the PetroCanada merger, and Nexen has operations in Yemen. Exxon-Mobil, Conoco-Phillips, Marathon, CNRL, and almost any major oil company you can name operate in these regions. The only major E&P company operating in the oilsands region that I can think of which doesn’t operate in “conflict oil” regions is Cenovus.
So, I guess it’s in Alykhan Velshi and Ezra Levant’s court now to respond – how does the Ethical Oil test treat companies operating in conflict oil regions? I’ll be interested to hear what they have to say.