Thread regarding Shell Oil layoffs

Energy Transition Reality Check.

Royal Dutch Shell has been hit by the departure of several clean energy executives amid a split over how far and fast the oil giant should shift towards greener fuels.

The wave of resignations comes just weeks before Shell is set to announce its strategy for the energy transition. 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, according to four people familiar with the matter.

Marc van Gerven, who headed the solar, storage and on-shore wind businesses at Shell, Eric Bradley, who worked in Shell’s distributed energy division, and Katherine Dixon, a leader in its energy transition strategy team, have all left the company in recent weeks.

Dorine Bosman, Shell’s vice-president for offshore wind, is also due to leave the company. Several other top executives in the clean energy part of the business also plan to exit in the coming months, two of the people said.

Not every move is known to be linked to frustration about the pace of change but people familiar with the internal debate said there were deep divisions over the timeframe for reducing the company’s dependence on oil and gas revenues, which had influenced at least some of the departing executives.

People are really questioning if there will be any change at all,” said one of the people familiar with the internal tensions. “Part of the frustration is that you see the potential, but the mindset isn’t there among senior leaders for anything radical.”

Ben van Beurden, chief executive, has said investment into lower-carbon businesses such as biofuels and solar power “needs to accelerate.” However, he has also said that oil will continue to be a huge cash generator and the company will expand its gas division. “There is going to be a place for our upstream business for many decades to come,” he recently told a conference.
The departures are particularly notable because they come ahead of a strategy update in February, when Shell is expected to spell out how it plans to become a net zero emissions business.

European oil companies are under pressure from investors and environmentalists, forcing several – including Shell – to announce net-zero emissions pledges. That pressure is now mounting from the company’s own workforce.

“I don’t know how we are going to transition without wholesale change at Shell. We don’t have the culture or that level of flexibility to do it,” said another person familiar with the internal split. “I wouldn’t be surprised if we see more high-profile departures.”

Rival BP in August said it would cut oil and gas production by 40 per cent by 2030 as part of its energy transition plan, which analysts expected would force Shell down the same path. Yet van Beurden told the Financial Times last year his “single biggest” regret would be retreating from the oil business prematurely.

Some top executives at Shell are concerned about investing larger sums into greener businesses that are not as lucrative as traditional fossil-fuel divisions. They also believe that the company has already moved aggressively and only needs to communicate better.

Yet others are concerned that this would amount to “rearranging the deckchairs” and Shell risked falling behind peers in adapting to a future where more people shun hydrocarbons. They note that most managers expected to lead the energy transition are from traditional hydrocarbon backgrounds.

Dixon, who joined the International Energy Agency, said she left the oil company for the Paris-based organisation to work on public policy and because the IEA had “incredible potential to lead the global energy transition”.

Van Gerven, Bradley and Bosman did not respond to requests for comment.

A Shell spokesperson said: “We remain firmly focused on leading in the energy transition. Doing this means reshaping Shell to enable the delivery of our strategy, to be nimbler and more competitive.”

© 2020 The Financial Times Ltd

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Post ID: @OP+18jALkYT

8 replies (most recent on top)

Green Energy Transition Ambition Headwinds for Oil Majors

"If the green majors are nervous about a coming clash, they aren’t showing it. NextEra Energy Inc. NEE 0.37% Chief Executive James Robo dismissed the idea that oil majors in the U.S. and Europe posed a competitive threat at an investor conference this fall, saying that the companies’ green projects were among the worst he had seen.
“I don’t worry about the oil majors at all,” he told the audience. “If I have 100 things I worry about at night, it’s not even on the top 100.” Mr. Robo declined to be interviewed.

For now, NextEra, Enel SpA and Iberdrola SA are Wall Street darlings, after Spain’s Iberdrola and Italy’s Enel became global builders of green energy projects, while NextEra became America’s largest generator of wind and solar power.

Each of the companies has seen its share price soar in recent months as investors bet on their ability to lead the transition to a lower-carbon future with massive investments in renewable energy, battery storage and improvements to the electric grid. "

Post ID: @3ixf+18jALkYT

Ability to spend tax payer money? Maybe shareholder money?

Post ID: @2myu+18jALkYT

What special skills did they have that will be missed? The ability to spend taxpayers' money? Not hard.

Post ID: @2flx+18jALkYT

Agreed. Shell people survey result for years are consistent with responses that say there is too much red tape. We are told to generate ideas and projects to improve performance but it can take years for any of these ideas to be implemented. Shell wants to be part of the energy transition using other peoples money however that will only get them so far.

Post ID: @1err+18jALkYT

Post ID: @1afa+18jALkYT

Carbon has finally been exposed. EM is well on its way to becoming irrelevant not unlike Donald Trump and his motley crew.

Post ID: @izm+18jALkYT

Not all majors have caved in and are being green mailed. ExxonMobil has extended its fat middle finger and is not pretending to be anything but a traditional oil and gas company. That may not be a popular stance with clueless millennials but at least it is not wasting time with insincere virtue signaling

Post ID: @tvw+18jALkYT

It is one thing for Shell and other oil industry giants to say nimble and quite another to be it. Anyone who has been around the block knows the chances of that happening don't exist.

It is also easy for current executives to appease green activists and jump on the net zero carbon emissions by 2050 bandwagon. They and their fat bank accounts will be long gone before that promise blows up.

Post ID: @dfw+18jALkYT

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