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Shell’s Uriah Heep

May 26, 2017

By Paul Homewood

h/t Patsy Lacey



From the headline, you might have thought that Shell had grown some balls. Unfortunately, as Jillian Ambrose reports, it is mostly the same old:

Royal Dutch Shell has convincingly defeated a climate activist uprising after facing down one of its most bitter stand-offs with shareholders over its climate goals.

Around 94pc of shareholders voted down a special resolution calling for the oil giant to set and publish annual targets to reduce carbon emissions at its AGM in the Hague on Tuesday. The board also survived a vote on executive pay which was backed by 93pc of shareholders.

But anger over the group’s focus on fossil fuels dominated the meeting, underlining the mounting pressure facing oil majors to address public concern.

Shell boss Ben Van Beurden used much of his opening address to assure shareholders that it is taking action to reduce its carbon intensity.

“I thought I’d better address these issues upfront,” he said. Mr Van Beurden and Shell’s chairman Charles Holliday then went on to field a deluge of shareholder questions over the role the company will play in adhering to the Paris Climate agreement.

“I would like to stress that we get it. We understand what needs to happen. We understand the role we need to play,” Mr Van Beurden said.

Mr Holliday added that the board will be taking account of fresh forecasts which predict a boom in electric vehicles that threatens to throw oil demand projections into disarray and leave high-cost oil assets stranded.

Shell V-Power

Mr Van Beurden pledged to slash carbon intensity in half by 2025 by  increasing its offerings of lower carbon fuels. In addition, half its retail profits will come from  “anything but fuel” as Shell transforms its service stations to become "retail destinations".

He also outlined plans to pursue advanced biofuels, hydrogen fuels as well as opportunities in renewable power and electric vehicle charging.

But he was clear that Shell would not pursue low carbon projects which “do not closely fit” with its core competencies.

“I hope you respect and understand that every part of the economy needs to play to its strengths,” he said.

Instead he called on Governments to push for clear carbon pricing policies and support for carbon capture and storage technologies, which can dramatically reduce carbon emissions from thermal power plants.

Shell’s 2016 takeover of liquefied natural gas (LNG) leader BG Group is part of its strategy to shift away from oil towards gas, which has roughly half the carbon intensity.

The embattled oil boss rubbished shareholder concern that renewable energy sources may “leapfrog” gas in the transition to a low carbon power system.

He said gas will still be used “decades in the future”. Demand for gas is increasing at double the rate of oil , and demand for LNG is growing at double the rate of pipeline gas, he said.

“The energy system by the end of the century will still need gas,” he said.

Instead of all of this apologetic, Uriah Heep nonsense, why did not Van Beurden point out that:

  • Fossil fuels have been responsible for a transformation in living standards, pulling whole populations out of grinding poverty.
  • Developing countries now want access to the same advantages that the West has had.
  • North Sea oil has generated hundreds of billions in revenue for the government.
  • Vehicle duty in Britain collects close to another £30bn annually.
  • Whatever effect oil has had on global climate has without doubt been a beneficial one.
  • Shell itself only accounts for a small proportion of oil production, less than 2% of global output.
  • World production of oil is dominated by the US, Russia and Middle East, which account for 58%. It is ridiculous to think that Shell can have any measurable effect on CO2 emissions, and even less so on climate.
  • If Shell, along with the likes of BP, were to stop all further exploration and wind down existing fields, the price of oil would quickly spike, leading to worldwide economic recession.
  • Worse still, if such a strategy was widely adopted, it would not take long for whole economies to collapse, making the Great Depression of the 1930s look like a tea party.

In a way, I can understand why oil companies feel brow beaten, attacked on all sides by corrupt climate scientists, the green blob, anti capitalists, big government and the hangers on in the media.

But if companies like Shell can’t stand up for themselves and the rest of us, who will?

  1. May 26, 2017 10:04 am

    ‘forecasts which predict a boom in electric vehicles’

    Not unless they cut the prices to below the cost of non-electric competitors.

    • Gerry, England permalink
      May 26, 2017 12:53 pm

      Its not just that – they are just generally impractical to most people who only own one vehicle. For most journeys they would be fine but then you want to visit your aunt 300 miles away. Motorway travel can never switch over fully until you have either 5min charging times or swap out batteries. Try recharging all the cars using the M6 this weekend. Just how much space would you need while they sit there for an hour or so? Yet another area the green dunces haven’t figured out.

  2. Dung permalink
    May 26, 2017 10:49 am

    I would not willingly give up my own petrol engined car however cheap electric cars became.

    • Paddy permalink
      May 27, 2017 6:16 am

      And I wouldn’t give up my two diesels for electric or petrol !

  3. Keith Gugan permalink
    May 26, 2017 11:23 am

    Fortunately Shell’s major shareholders are institutional and they would prefer to see pension schemes, etc. maintaining their gold standard. The eco-nerds are an irritation and come with the territory. No doubt they see themselves as the movers and shakers but, though they don’t realise it, they are already dead in the water.

  4. May 26, 2017 12:36 pm

    ‘as Shell transforms its service stations to become “retail destinations”.’

    That’s not going to work too well if everyone has an electric car they can power at home or in a supermarket car park, motorway service area, etc. etc.

    • Gerry, England permalink
      May 26, 2017 12:56 pm

      Well people will have to do something while they wait for the battery to charge up. Perhaps they could add a pitch & putt course, bowling alley, snooker tables to fill up the hour or so. Mind you that will push up the costs of refueling your EV, especially as the service stations throughput will tumble to the level of not being viable.

  5. CheshireRed permalink
    May 26, 2017 12:49 pm

    AGW drones 4 CCS. FFS.

  6. Gerry, England permalink
    May 26, 2017 12:58 pm

    Attack is the best form of defence. Paul is quite correct that he should have filleted all the bullshit on EVs and other renewables.

    • Broadlands permalink
      May 27, 2017 9:04 pm

      “Attack is the best form of defense”. But, it works both ways. The “alarmists” use that ploy with regularity to condescendingly call others “denialists” or worse. Attacking them with clear evidence and facts drives them into a frenzy. Carbon-capture and store technologies simply cannot work on a global scale, if at all. This “inconvenient” fact puts them into “denial” and they fight back with ad hominem “technology”. And so it goes….

  7. Curious George permalink
    May 26, 2017 2:21 pm

    The uprising defeated with 93% and 94% of vote. I thought that winning 60% of vote was called a landslide.

  8. Athelstan permalink
    May 26, 2017 4:01 pm

    i dunno but what I’d be more concerned about is……………………. this [ref below] and do not forget how much pollution is caused in areas like the Niger Delta – by these sorts of practices to which big, oil turns a blind eye to. Indeed, why aren’t the green blob, dipshit green NGO’s, efikal pols, the Hollywood luvvies, Emma Thompson………… bouncing up and down about this? And anyway, big oil plays the middle against the edges; big oil bad, big oil green, big oil takes us all for morons……………………………

    Nigerian crude oil is being stolen on an industrial scale. Some of what is stolen is exported. Proceeds are laundered through world financial centres and used to buy assets in and outside Nigeria. In Nigeria, politicians, military officers, militants, oil industry personnel, oil traders and communities profit, as do organized criminal groups. The trade also supports other transnational organized crime in the Gulf of Guinea.

    This report explores the international dimensions of Nigerian crude oil theft. It also tackles the thorny question of what the international community could – and should – do about it.


    Nigeria offers a strong enabling environment for the large-scale theft of crude oil. Corruption and fraud are rampant in the country’s oil sector. A dynamic, overcrowded political economy drives competition for looted resources. Poor governance has encouraged violent opportunism around oil and opened doors for organized crime. Because Nigeria is the world’s 13th largest oil producer – exports often topped two million barrels per day in 2012 – high rents are up for grabs.

    The basic story of how Nigeria’s crude goes missing has been told for years. To steal oil, thieves tap into pipelines and other infrastructure in the Niger Delta. They then pump the oil onto waiting barges and boats. Some of it is refined locally while larger vessels carry the rest abroad. There are also allegations that oil vanishes from at least some of the country’s roughly two dozen export terminals.

    no worries just pretend it doesn’t happen……………..PDF here

  9. May 26, 2017 4:05 pm

    It’s time we had a few company chairmen who were prepared to tell their shareholders all about the climate change scam and how renewables are useless.

    • May 26, 2017 7:21 pm

      Wheres the chairman of Exxon these days ??
      But unfortunately anything that pushes up the price of oil is good for big oil corps .

  10. May 26, 2017 11:14 pm

    BTW the Shell PR team were pushing KIte Power Systems in the Times today, but Euan Mearns wrote about the exact same story being in the Indy in October 2016
    He’s a consulant for them now , so see his blog,

  11. May 27, 2017 4:47 am

    A bunch of cackling hens buy a few shares and the boss caves? Fire him, and increase the number of human haters and their agents needed for business to destroy the enitiy.

  12. Ex-expat Colin permalink
    May 27, 2017 6:15 am

    Has anybody thought through EV’s and traffic jams etc? Specifically the M25 around the M4 to M3 junctions…Heathrow and other major junction areas. Not to mention single lane M1/M6/M11 etc for road works. Risk Analysis in waiting? Vertical stack motorway lanes soon as the problems are already with us.

    • Gerry, England permalink
      May 28, 2017 3:07 pm

      And if the weather is hot or cold the EV drivers won’t be able use aircon or heating unless they want to have a short trip. What if the battery gives out in the jam? Lots of failed EV cars blocking the motorway – that’ll help traffic flow.

  13. May 29, 2017 12:06 pm

    Reblogged this on ajmarciniak.

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