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Lorraine Mitchelmore is stepping down as the head of Shell Canada. But she’s not going quietly.

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Screen Shot 2015-11-20 at 08.55.47NOVEMBER 18, 2015 10:20 AM


Shell has reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 20 per cent per barrel from its oilsands business in the past five years, through many small efforts, including making more efficient use of its trucks.

Yet that hasn’t stopped Shell from being a target and paying a high price for the anti-oilsands campaign.

Last month it cancelled the 80,000-barrels-a-day Carmon Creek oilsands project in Peace River in mid-construction, taking a $2-billion impairment charge.

Some 3,500 construction and 350 permanent jobs vanished. Some staff had worked on it their entire careers.

Lack of pipeline capacity was one of the deal-breakers. The others were a “perfect storm” of low oil prices, constrained capital and better projects elsewhere in Shell’s global portfolio.

Meanwhile, Shell’s base oilsands business has focused on becoming resilient at low oil prices – its operating costs have declined to US$27 a barrel, 30 per cent lower than five years ago.

Production has steadied at 224,000 barrels a day from two mines, with 60 per cent going to Shell and the remaining 40 per cent equally owned by partners Chevron Corp. and Marathon Oil Co., as the group focused on making its operations more globally competitive.

It’s a considerable change of heart for a company that only eight years ago was talking about aggressively expanding its oilsands business to 770,000 barrels a day, that was so pleased with Canada’s political and regulatory stability it deployed here a big part of its global spending.

It’s a different story today.

Mitchelmore, a geophysicist who has worked for Shell around the world, doesn’t yet know what she will do next, other than spending more time with her two young daughters, living in Calgary, and making herself heard.

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