Shell Oil Co. agrees with protesters, who have called for a nationwide boycott of its service stations, that the South African government's apartheid policies are "morally indefensible," a company spokesman said Saturday. But the boycott against Shell in this country is "unfair, misguided and cannot succeed" in changing those policies, he said.
Shell USA, Shell South Africa, and their parent company, Royal Dutch-Shell Group, all have publicly stated their opposition to apartheid, said Gene Munger, manager of West Coast public affairs for Shell.
His comments followed a demonstration in Los Angeles Friday in which representatives from more than 50 labor and civil rights groups urged residents to stop using Shell service stations or buying Shell products, and to cut up and send back their Shell credit cards.
"Shell Oil here has no investments, no projects, and no people in South Africa, and we really cannot influence government policies there," Munger said, adding that the boycott can only hurt independent U.S. businessmen--the dealers and jobbers who operate Shell service stations.
Although Shell USA is "one of the main subsidiaries in Royal Dutch-Shell," he said that even if the boycott succeeded in drawing the attention of the overseas parent company, the result would not be a reevaluation of its investments or a change in its dealings with South Africa. The protesters claim that Royal Dutch-Shell is South Africa's principal supplier of crude oil, uses "slave labor" in mines it operates and has up to $2 billion in investments there.