“Even headlines that are true can be misleading, they might even make people think we have gone soft on the future of oil and gas. If they did think that, they would be wrong," Ben Van Beurden, CEO Shell
Global Oil and Gas major, Royal Dutch Shell has been in the headlines for a while now with their billion dollar investments in Renewables and Electric Vehicles, but the company is not drifting away from its oil and gas roots, just yet. And why would they, with the firm making its biggest ever profits on the back of rising oil prices, and the cost controls learnt over the period when oil was at $40 levels, barely two years ago.
Ben Van Beurden, Chief Executive speaking at conference in London, warned the industry not to be swayed by the flurry of headlines marking Shell’s steps towards cleaner energy. “Even headlines that are true can be misleading, they might even make people think we have gone soft on the future of oil and gas. If they did think that, they would be wrong,” he said.
Speaking a day after UN’s climate report calling for an urgent response to limit greenhouse gas emissions, the CEO reaffirmed the delegates that when it comes to oil and gas, Shell still “means business”.
“Shell’s core business is, and will be for the foreseeable future, very much in oil and gas and particularly in natural gas. Oil is going to be needed by this world for a long time to come,” he added.
Shell plans to invest $1 billion-$2 billion every year on renewable electricity, home energy supply and electric vehicle charging as it looks to establish a stronghold in the electricity sector. But when compared to its $25 billion annual budget for traditional activities exploring and producing oil and gas, the renewable investments seems like a side project, at best. In fact, considering the fact that these investments are also generating or seek to generate real returns for Shell, its safer to liken them to buying insurance for the future, when the investments could provide Shell with both an asset, and cover for likely criticism for its role if the worst of the climate change predictions come true. Of course that’s the time Mr Ben Van Beurden will be hoping to have retired and settled in comfortably somewhere safe.
“I believe it is right to be spending up to $2bn on areas like renewables, new fuels and supplying electricity because that is what our customers will want over the long term and Shell intends to stay with our customers over the long term,” he said.
“We will be linked to the pace of change in society”, he said while discussing shells shift in fossil fuel focus from oil to gas, which the energy giant has already undertaken.
“We also intend to stay with them right now, next year and for all the years to come until this long-term (renewable) future becomes a reality,” he added.