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Oil companies missed transition pivot

Petroleum Economist

Oil companies missed transition pivot

Shell and activist investor both agree that mistakes were made in the ’00s

“We gave up wind 15 years ago, which was a strategic mistake,” Shell CEO Ben van Beurden admitted in an October Ted event otherwise overshadowed by the executive being on the end of a withering personal attack by a climate campaigner.

And Chris James, co-founder of investor Engine No.1, agrees that oil firms such as Shell should have switched to more transition-focused businesses before the 2008 financial crisis. “There was an opportunity, about 15 years ago, for the oil and gas industry to lean very heavily into renewables and to really start the energy transition,” says James. “That is when they had a cost-of-capital advantage, that is when they had great balance sheets. But it did not happen…


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