Ben van Beurden’s balancing act: Shell’s boss delivers some hard truths on oil and climate change

Jul 6th 2019

When Ben van Beurden was a boy in the Netherlands, one of his chores was to fill the coal scuttle. It was a hateful task—especially in the cold weather when he had to traipse out to a shed in the back garden. “I can still feel the wet, freezing cold creeping up my legs,” he told a Dutch audience last year. He hated the coal furnace because he had to wash himself next to it. He hated the washcloth because it did not stay hot for long enough. But it gave him a cold, hard lesson in the importance of energy. Mr van Beurden, boss of Royal Dutch Shell, the world’s second-biggest publicly traded oil company, is not the first well-paid executive to dwell on the hardships of his youth. But his story is poignant because of what came next. In the 1960s the vast Groningen field in the Netherlands brought natural gas to the country for the first time. The coal scuttle and cold washcloth gave way to a hot shower—and progress for his whole family. READ MORE

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