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Shell’s Magnificent Display of Hypocrisy: Still Trading Russian Gas Despite Empty Promises

Posted by John Donovan 3 July 2023

In a remarkable exhibition of utter disregard for their own pledges, Shell, the greedy and ruthless polluting oil giant, continues to engage in the trading of Russian gas more than a year after promising to withdraw from the Russian energy market.

Despite their hollow claims, the despicable company was involved in nearly an eighth of Russia’s shipborne gas exports in 2022, making a tidy sum of hundreds of millions while conveniently ignoring the bloodshed and suffering caused by the Ukrainian invasion.

Oleg Ustenko, an adviser to Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky, aptly accused Shell of accepting “blood money,” highlighting the depths of their moral bankruptcy.

But fear not, for Shell assures us that these trades are merely the result of their “long-term contractual commitments” and conveniently insists that they do not violate any laws or sanctions. How noble of Shell to find a legal loophole to continue profiting from a conflict-ridden situation.

Oh, and let’s not forget the breathtaking irony when a massive tanker carrying liquefied natural gas, purchased by Shell, sails off from the Russian port of Sabetta, heading towards the pristine shores of Hong Kong. Because nothing says “commitment to sustainability” quite like trading Russian gas halfway across the world.

Shell’s sorry excuse for an apology came in March 2022, shortly after the invasion of Ukraine, when they admitted to buying a cargo of Russian oil and vowed to withdraw from all Russian hydrocarbons. Of course, they conveniently neglected to set a deadline for stopping their gas trades, citing the need to ensure Europe’s energy security. How thoughtful of Shell to prioritize their profits over human lives.

But here’s the kicker: despite their feeble justifications, Shell continued to take cargoes of LNG from Russian ports, including Yamal and Sakhalin. They cling onto their contract with Russian LNG company Novatek, obliging them to buy 900,000 tonnes of gas annually from Yamal until the 2030s. Clearly, Shell’s commitment to human rights and the environment is as durable as a sandcastle during high tide.

Shell, the world’s largest trader of LNG, made a staggering $5.4 billion in estimated gross margin from trading LNG and optimizing its portfolio in 2022, with a significant portion of it likely coming from their despicable trade in Russian LNG. Profiting from a conflict that has caused immense suffering is a commendable achievement indeed.

While the UK and EU politicians engage in feeble attempts to reduce Russian gas imports, Shell shamelessly continues its lucrative deals, selling gas to the Middle East and Asia instead of Europe. 

It is high time for Shell to be thoroughly embarrassed by its Russian gas trade and for governments to take action. The UK and EU member states must immediately halt imports of Russian gas and ban companies within their jurisdictions from engaging in this shameful trade. Furthermore, companies like Shell that have profited from the war in Ukraine should face a 100 per cent tax on all profits and dividends received from their Russian operations.

Right of Reply: Shell is cordially invited to point out any factual inaccuracies in this critique. It is only fair to provide them with a platform to defend their indefensible actions as part of this article, without any editing or censorship.

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