SAN RAMON, Calif./DALLAS May 29 About 30
percent of shareholders of both Exxon Mobil Corp and
Chevron Corp on Wednesday backed calls for more
disclosure surrounding their use of hydraulic fracturing, the
top two U.S. oil companies said.
The votes, which had about the same support last year,
reflect sustained concern among a large portion of investors and
the general population about the practice, which has unlocked a
huge amount of oil and gas resources across North America but
led to environmentalist worries about water contamination.
Chevron Chief Executive John Watson told the annual meeting
of shareholders that his company's level of disclosure was
adequate, as he responded to a request from the fracking
proposal's supporter for more quantitative measures of safety.
Fracking involves injecting chemical-laced water and sand to
break and prop open shale rock to unleash oil and gas. The
industry says it is safe when done properly, and the debate has
moved to Chevron's own backyard, California, where it is just
Chevron said 31 percent of its shareholders supported the
fracking proposal, compared with about 30 percent for Exxon.
Last year, a proposal for a report on fracking risks had support
from 27 percent of Chevron shareholders, while a similar
proposal got 30 percent support among Exxon investors.
"Shareholders expect Exxon 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 Danielle Fugere, president of As You
Sow, an investor advocacy group that filed the Exxon resolution.
Another issue of great concern for environmentalists is
Arctic drilling, and rival Royal Dutch Shell Plc has
just gone through an accident-prone foray into offshore drilling
off Alaska's coast over the past year. Watson said Chevron was
still evaluating its opportunities in the Arctic region.
"Most of the concerns are around costs," he said, speaking
to reporters after the meeting.
A few dozen shareholders gathered outside Chevron's
headquarters in San Ramon, California - just east of San
Francisco - with many of them decryling the influence of
corporate money in U.S. politics.
In Dallas, before Exxon's meeting started, about half a
dozen police guarded its barricaded entrance, but there was only
one protester outside who came to voice his support for equal
benefits for employees in same-sex marriages.
The New York State Common Retirement fund submitted a
proposal asking Exxon to amend its employment policy to
explicitly prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation
and gender identity.
New York pension funds own about 14 million Exxon shares
with a value of more than $1 billion. The New York proposal, on
Exxon's proxy for the 16th year, received the support of about
20 percent of the company's shareholders.
Exxon said in filings with the SEC that its current policies
already prohibit any kind of discrimination.
Separately, support for Exxon's executive pay packages
eroded this year.