From: Terry Macalister
Published September 17, 2008 08:41 AM

Tar sands - the new toxic investment

Shell and BP have been warned by investors that their involvement in unconventional energy production such as Canada's oil sands could turn out to be the industry's equivalent of the sub-prime lending that poisoned the banking sector and triggered the current financial crisis.

The criticism came as a report was released yesterday warning of the potential financial risks of tar sands, and members of the UK Social Investment Forum met in London to consider a Co-op Investments campaign on halting oil industry involvement in the carbon-intensive oil projects.

The report, BP and Shell, Rising Risks in Tar Sands Investment, co-authored by Greenpeace and fellow campaign group Platform, argues that oil majors are trying to make up a shortfall in conventional reserves by an irresponsible dash to extract oil from bitumen and other sources.

Mark Hoskin, senior partner at the ethical investment advisers Holden & Partners, expressed concern about the increasing focus on tar sands at a time when oil companies are being shut out of traditional drilling areas such as Russia and Venezuela.

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