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Sunday, November 18 , 2018, 1:22 am | Fog/Mist 52º


Letter to the Editor: Engaging with Shell — A Radio Play

Sound Effect: (Phone rings, the click of pickup)

Voice 1: van Beuren here.

Voice 2: Mr. Benjamin van Beuren?

1: Yes.

2: I'm an investor in Shell, sir, and I thought we might engage in some dia ...

1: You're who?

2: I'm an investor. I have shares in Shell and I thought it would be nice if ...

1: You're an investor? In Shell? Is that what you said?

2: Yes.

1: And you are what fund?

2: Not a fund, sir. It's just me.

1: Just you? A single person? And we're talking how many shares?

2: Twenty.

1: Twenty thousand shares?

2: No, no - twenty. I was wondering if we ...

1: Twenty shares? Is that what you said? Twenty shares?

2: Yes. I know it's not as much as some ...

1: How did you get through on this line?

2: I don't know. I just called the number and after some buzzing and funny noises the line clicked and you came on. I read on the Internet that your investors should engage with you so I thought I'd ask ...

1: What's your name?

2: Markowsky, Mr. van Beuren. Fred Markowsky.

1: The shareholder meeting is next May, Mr. Markowsky.

2: Yes, I know. Holland is kind of far away, I missed the last get-together. I realize you're extremely busy, Mr. van Beuren, with your ship getting up there in the Alaska waterways and all, but my investor service says that people who are thinking of getting out of oil stocks since they're not doing so well should try to engage with the company, you know? Talk to them? Reason with them? I know we both read the newspapers about climate change and all and I was hoping ...

1: You're a reporter for The Guardian, aren't you?

2: No, no, nothing like that, Mr. van Beuren. I just wanted to have a discussion with you, since the Internet says investors should reason with their oil company guys, you know, sort of let them know that we're concerned about what's happening with the planet. They say that if companies like Shell continue to produce stuff that's causing the planet to get hotter, we're all going to be in trouble. So I thought it might be OK to discuss with you the possibility of Shell's cutting back a little bit, you know? Maybe producing a bit less or even going into renewables, which could be sort of a sideline. That would be nice for you. It's a good thing to be looking ahead, wouldn't you say?  And we all have families - the next generation thing. .. Right? ... So I think It would be really nice if we could work something out. ... They said you might ... Well, I'm doing all the talking here. Do you have a take on this?

1: (silence)

2: Mr. van Beuren? ... Are you there, sir?

1: You said your name was what? ... Makofsky?

2: Markowsky, Mr. van Beuren. But there's no reason for formality, you can call me ...

1: Do you have ears on the side of your head, Mr. Markowsky?

2: Excuse me ...?

1: I said do you have ears on the side of your head?

2: Uh, yes sir, my wife says sometimes I don't seem to ... 

1: Then point them this way, Mr. Markowsly, and tune into this. Royal Dutch Shell is going into the bowels of the earth and into the depths of the sea to bring up all the oil and gas it can find, sell all of it to every Tom, Dick and Harry that will have it, to every nation on earth, to every state of this union, sending gasoline, home heating fuels, kerosene, diesel fuel on every tanker truck, tanker ship, railroad car, through every pipeline that we own, rent or build, to every gas pump, airport or home in existence - and we will keep doing this til the end of time. TIL THE END OF TIME, MR. MASLOWSKY! Do I make myself clear?

2: Well, I was just hoping that we could have a reasonable ...


2: I certainly heard what you said, sir, but if we ...

Sound effect: (click)

2: Mr. van Beuren? ... Mr. van Beuren? ... Geez ...

Voice 3 (female in distance): What did he say?

2: He didn't seem to want to engage.

William Smithers
Santa Barbara

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