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ExxonMobil, Chevron Investors Once Again Veto Shale Proposals

For the fourth year in a row, ExxonMobil Corp. and Chevron Corp. investors soundly defeated proposals calling for more disclosures regarding shale extraction operations.

The two largest U.S.-based oil and gas operators held annual meetings on Wednesday, with ExxonMobil in Dallas and Chevron at company headquarters in San Ramon, CA. The votes on measures calling for more information about shale extraction, which were opposed by both boards, nearly mirrored the tally in 2012, with 70% of shareholders at ExxonMobil defeating the measure and 69% of Chevron's voting it down. In 2012, ExxonMobil's shareholders turned down the measure by a vote of 70.4%, while at Chevron about 73% had voted with management (see Shale Daily, May 31, 2012).

ExxonMobil shareholders filing the shale proposal had asked for the board to report every year beginning Oct. 30 "using multiple quantitative indicators, the results of company procedures and practices, above and beyond regulatory requirements, to minimize any adverse environmental and community impacts from the company's natural gas extraction operations associated with shale formations. Such reports should be prepared at reasonable cost and omit confidential information."

The proponents suggested that the ExxonMobil reports include the percentage of wells using "green completions," as well as the total amount of air emissions reduced annually on a categorical and regional/site basis; percentage of drilling residuals managed in closed-loop systems; and the percentage of recycled water used in each regional operation.

In addition, they wanted the reports to include the quantity of fresh water used for shale operations by region, including sources; numbers and types of community complaints/grievances, and portion open/closed; goals and systems for reducing the use of potentially harmful chemicals in fracturing fluids; and enforcement statistics, including numbers of violation notices or administrative actions alleging violations with potential to harm health or environment, and aggregate value of all penalties during the year.

As the largest natural gas producer in the United States, investors expect ExxonMobil "to lead the industry, but almost across the board Exxon is failing to provide the site-specific information that shareholders, regulators and impacted communities need," said As You Sow President Danielle Fugere, who spoke for the proposal before the proxy votes were tabulated.

ExxonMobil's board had recommended voting against the proposal because it said through its annual Corporate Citizenship Report (CCR) and other measures it already was "discussing the risks and rewards of shale extraction. We are also reporting on the results of shale gas development operations, which are included in the CCR. Most importantly, the company is effectively assessing and managing the risks associated with such development."

Chevron CEO John Watson responded to a proponent of a similar measure by telling shareholders that the company's level of disclosure also was adequate. Proponents also had wanted Chevron to begin annual reports about shale extraction operations to begin by Oct. 31.

Chevron's board recommended voting against the proposal because it said the operator "has in place well-developed risk management systems and a strong commitment to stakeholder engagement and disclosure that supports our natural gas from shale development efforts and addresses public concerns. Natural gas from shale development activities are regulated and reported at the local, state and federal level, and the production of a special report would be duplicative of the company's current extensive reporting.

"As part of its broad oversight responsibilities, your board frequently reviews Chevron's shale gas development efforts and the risks inherent in this line of business. Your board understands that communities have concerns surrounding the development of natural gas from shale. For our employees, communities and environment, the only acceptable development is safe, clean and responsible development."

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