At one time, Royal Dutch Shell held a great deal excitement about the possibility of being able to take advantage of new oil resources in the tar sands of Canada. The previous fervor has now evolved into a more business-like feeling that treats the investment as just one of many the multi-national corporation has at its disposal.


The reason for the change in approach is due to a combination of factors, though three specifically stand out. The steep drop in oil prices over the past two years is one key component, while the added costs of extracting oil from the tar sands and the prospect of carbon taxes make the concept of further investment an uninviting prospect.

Right now, Shell is able to produce 300,000 barrels of oil per day, with 180,000 of those being the property of Shell. The company’s 60 percent ownership still helps it deliver profit into its coffers, yet the prospect of further investment, given the current economic and environmental climate, has dried up. Those proposed carbon taxes could cut into profits further, unless the price of oil goes above $60 a barrel.

Half of Shell’s Canadian employees are situated in the oil sands area, which would give the company even less reason to shut things down. Depending on what occurs in the future with regard to the oil market, the company may revisit any further investment.

Until then, Shell is eyeing newer options that are more environmentally-friendly to a certain extent, such as renewables and the shale market within the United States. One of the first indications of this new outlook came when the company spent an estimated $80 billion to acquire BG Group. That purchase was an important part of making major inroads in the growing interest in using liquefied natural gas.