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Threat to pensions if BP and Shell find themselves extinct


Stop crude focus on oil profits: The Guardian: Article by Sean Farrell: Sunday 29 October 2017

At the start of last year, Britain’s big oil companies, Shell and BP, appeared to be in crisis. A slump in the price of Brent crude – from more than $110 a barrel in 2014 to less than $30 in January 2016 – sent profits tumbling and appeared to threaten dividends. After painful cost cuts and a partial recovery in the oil price to near $60, the pressure has eased and both are expected to report solid first-half results this week.

BP goes first, on Tuesday, with Shell, the stronger of the two, on Thursday. The commotion over the oil slump diverted some attention from their commitments to low-carbon energy. To much fanfare, both companies’ boards supported resolutions at their 2015 annual meetings that required clearer reporting of emissions, business risks and efforts to develop green energy sources.

But last week, ShareAction, which campaigned for the resolutions, criticised BP and Shell for inaction. Their capital spending on low-carbon energy sources (1.3% at BP and 3% by 2020 for Shell) was unconvincing, ShareAction argued. Cannily, the group couched its criticism in terms of the threat to pensions if BP and Shell find themselves extinct. With the day-to-day crisis averted maybe it’s time to refocus on the long term.

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