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Shell chief hints at transition plans

11 Jan 2021 2:22 PM | Sonia Harvey (Administrator)

SHELL chief Ben van Beurden has outlined some of the company’s plans to reduce its carbon emissions ahead of the company unveiling its new strategy next month.

In an interview posted on Shell's website last week, Van Beurden noted the personal and financial pain caused by last year's COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent oil price crash, forcing the company to cut its dividend

"I had a knot in my stomach on the day we had to announce it, even though, at a senior level, we all agreed that this was the right thing to do," he said. 

Last April the company announced its ambition to reach net-zero emissions by 2050 or sooner, alongside other European majors including BP, Equinor and Repsol. 

Beurden addressing Scope 1 emissions would be the smallest of three tasks it would have to do, noting the company would also have to reduce the carbon intensity of the products it sells by selling things such as hydrogen, biofuels and electricity, and also address Scope 3 emissions. 

"We have to work with our customers because we cannot simply try to sell lower-carbon energy to customers who have no technical nor commercial use for it. We have to help our customers get to net zero. If they cannot get to net zero, we will not get to net zero," he said.

"The exact steps to get there are not yet totally clear, but what we do know is that you can figure it out best by working sector by sector."

Last month the Financial Times reported several senior clean energy executives had quit the company amid a spat over how far and fast it should shift towards renewables and biofuels. 

The FT said some executives have pushed for a more aggressive shift from oil but top management is more inclined to stick closer to the company's current path. 

Beurden's interview made no mention of the internal rifts, with the chief saying the company's net zero ambition would mean changing the way the company thinks and the way its organised, noting around 7000-9000 jobs across the company were expected to go by the end of 2022. 

"The strategy we are setting is transformational. If you plan to be the type of organisation that works with customers on products and technologies that are not yet well established, you have to be more entrepreneurial, more nimble, more simple," he said. 

Last month, Beurden told a web conference he was hopeful the incoming Biden administration would bring stronger collaboration and policies to tackle climate change and speed up the energy transition.

Source: Energy News Bulletin

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