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Did Joe Lycett Slay the Oil Giant Shell in its Anglo-Dutch Form?

By John Donovan

Following the airing of a Channel 4 TV documentary Joe Lycett vs the Oil Giant on 24th October 2021, seismic changes have taken place at Royal Dutch Shell. 

Based on the timing of the chain of events, it appears that the documentary may have contributed to the decision to bring a sudden end to the oil giant in its Anglo-Dutch form, under which it operated for over a hundred years. 

Joe’s controversial impersonation of Royal Dutch Shell CEO Ben van Beurden including Ben shown literally talking shit about the green energy transition was cringe-making but made an impact.

In a video clip, Ben van Beurden was shown in a theatrical pose saying “The energy system must change faster and change is opportunity. Shell is acting today to be part of this future“. 

In the hour-long documentary, Joe highlighted the gap between Shell environmental pledges for a green future compared with its actual misdeeds. 

The documentary posed the question:…

“But will Shell sit up and listen?”

Ben van Beurden apparently did exactly that.

The following month Shell announced that it was planning to relocate its headquarters to London, abandon its dual share structure, and change its name from Royal Dutch Shell plc to Shell plc. All of those transformative moves have been completed. The Dutch name has been ditched, Shell is now solely a British company called Shell Plc with its HQ in London, the Shell Centre that featured so prominently in the documentary.  

The astonishing transformation (described as a green rebrand) was implemented at a breakneck speed, perhaps prompted by Joe’s TV documentary and his genius for exploiting social media.

Something or somebody certainly lit a fire under Shell. Dan Loeb may also have played a part. 

Whatever the impact of his documentary on Shell, Joe’s timing was impeccable, allowing him to claim credit for the dramatic changes that followed, whether due or not.

Shell CEO Ben van Beurden quickly put his mansion up for sale in the Netherlands (confirmed) and having received £71 million in pay and bonuses since taking the CEO job is looking for a suitable palatial residence near London. He has recently sold $5.2 million of the company’s shares, so he is flush with cash. 

But all is not well with Shell. Its future success depends in part on a huge natural gas project in which Shell, as the lead partner, has invested so many billions of dollars that it is now unwilling to disclose just how much shareholder money is at risk.

An industrial disaster on the scale of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill can potentially bring down even an oil giant.

Some may say that Ben van Beurden is talking shit again when he casually dismissed recent alarming developments on the Prelude project as mere “teething problems”

More to follow soon on that subject. See below.

DISCLOSURE: I was a guest interviewed by Joe during the TV documentary. 


Appearing on this website soon, a joint production with retired HSE Group Auditor of Shell International, Bill Campbell…

The Hindenburg, The Titanic and Shell Prelude FLNG

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