Carl von Amoudi - King of greenwashed petroleum

Today Carl Linnaeus (1707-1778), Carl von Linné in Swedish, is regarded almost as a saint,  “canonised” because of the scientific and cultural significance of his work. Science and Culture, together with pure untouched nature, are important ingredients in the detergent used in the phenomenon called greenwashing. That is, when corporations responsible for dirty and environmentally damaging activities want to clean up their reputation – without having to reduce their environmental impact. As environmental liability is becoming an increasingly important competitive factor, the words sustainable, future, purity/cleanliness and nature have become common in corporate marketing. This is particularly true if you want to sell fossil products.

Financier Mohammed Al Amoudi owns 100% of the oil company Preem. The company has two plants in Sweden: one situated in Gothenburg and the other, Preemraff Lysekil, about 100km further north, just off the coast. Giant tankers supply the raw material – crude oil. Preemraff Lysekil manufactures various types of fuel and is one of Sweden’s most active points of carbon dioxide emissions. Approximately two million tons of CO2 are gushing out from the refinery every year, as well as a number of other substances, harmful to health and nature.

Carl von AmoudiA revelation: Linnaeus, the king of flowers, sits on a rock in a lush forest. On the ground wriggles twinflowers and in his hand he holds a flower for species identification. Above his head floats a shimmering halo. Trademark Linnaeus guarantees serious science and a love of the earth’s riches. Now a man in clothes full of oil spills penetrates the picture. He places himself on the stone next to Linnaeus. It’s Mohammed Al Amoudi, and greedily he goes after Linnaeus halo. He pulls and stretches it in order to move it into a new position where it shimmers over both him and Linnaeus and he succeeds. Preem has got a new trend sensitive frontman – the petroleum King Carl von Amoudi.

Now Preemraff Lysekil expands. A coker will use heavy oil as feedstock and produce diesel, among other things. When the coker is operational, the carbon dioxide emissions will increase by 25% according to Preem. “But that is a global issue,” they add. It is possible that tailpipe emissions of carbon dioxide decrease a bit if you use what Preem wants to call their “eco-diesel”. How much, that’s unclear. At best, this seems to be a zero sum game: less from the tailpipes but more from the refinery. In the worst case there will be a total increase in carbon emissions. Anyhow the company has already obtained all required permits and construction of the coker was just about to start when the financial crisis struck. The project was put on hold, but the plans may be put into practice anytime at the whim of Preem.

At the same time Preem deletes the word “petroleum” from its corporate name, a classic move of greenwashing. OPAB, one of its subsidiaries, is fighting for permission to drill for oil right at Dalders in the Baltic Sea, but both the Swedish government and the Supreme Administrative Court have refused thus far. Now company management threatens to acquire Latvian licenses to get around the rejection and start drilling for oil in spite of the denials. Joint owner of Preem and OPAB is Mohammed Al Amoudi.

In parallel with exploration plans in the Baltic Sea, Preem carried out a lavish greenwash campaign. Photos of paradise images from different habitats were published in newspapers, magazines and on billboards. One of the pictures showed breathtakingly beautiful mountain scenery in Sarek National Park. Under the picture the Preem bear and a short text:

“As Sweden’s biggest fuel company, we take great responsibility to save the environment. We work with wind, rapeseed oil, ethanol, DME and pine oil, and along with other renewable fuels and propellants they take up an increasing share of what we produce and sell. Therefore, we now remove petroleum from our company name and the name is simply Preem. It does not save the environment, but it shows that we are taking it seriously.”

At the entrance to the oil refinery Preemraff Lysekil is a thin little tree. It is a young lime tree planted in honor of Carl Linnaeus jubilee year 2007 in the presence of both Al Amoudi and Sweden’s King Carl Gustav. A king of flowers, a king of petroleum, and an ordinary king - such a tree planting the media could not miss. In Sweden, there is currently no debate about Preem, the coker and its production of carbon dioxide and toxins.

Helena Fernández and Annika Rydenstam are, respectively, a journalist and an artist who have for many years cooperated with exhibitions, books and actions on various environmental and social themes. Their latest project was the exhibition “Green Wash Village” which took place in autumn 2009 in Gothenburg, Sweden.

All images © Majornas Luftvärn.

More information, pictures and greenwashing:


Preem AB
Corral Petroleum Holdings AB
which is
Moroncha Holdings Co. Ltd,
a Cypriot
which is,
in turn,
Mr. Mohammed H. Al Amoudi.

The text Wholly-owned is, with the exception of the title, a direct quote from:

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