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Shell’s Brilliantly “Clean” Plan: Ramping Up LNG While Preaching Net-Zero Gospel

…let’s not forget the crown jewel in Shell’s sparkling tiara: its $54bn splurge on BG Group in 2016. Who cares about  environmental criticism? More LNG, more money…

Posted by John Donovan 5 October 2023

In a masterful display of environmental puppetry, Shell, that ever-conscientious guardian of Mother Earth, announced at its capital markets day (amidst tittering from environmentalists) that while they were all about that net zero life, the delicious allure of liquefied natural gas (LNG) was simply too irresistible. After all, what’s a little carbon between friends?

Our beloved Wael Sawan, the fresh captain of the Shell ship, must have missed the memo on actual clean energy. Instead, he sang praises of LNG – you know, that other carbon-emitting fuel. Apparently, the sheer prospect of rolling in green – not from trees but from dollar bills – by investing a cool $4bn a year in LNG projects up to 2025 was just too tantalizing to pass up.

And why wouldn’t they? LNG has been a golden goose for Shell. Just a tiny tidbit: Shell’s integrated gas division made it rain with more than half the company’s $14.7bn earnings in the first half of 2023. Who cares if it’s a touch pollutant?

Now, for a little history lesson. Shell has been playing footsie with LNG since the 60s. Back in the good old days, gas was like that awkward cousin at the family BBQ – nobody knew what to do with it. But Shell, being the innovator it is, found a lucrative solution: cool it down to -162C and voilà! Money-maker extraordinaire.

And oh, let’s not forget the crown jewel in Shell’s sparkling tiara: its $54bn splurge on BG Group in 2016. Who cares about  environmental criticism? More LNG, more money, more problems. (Or something like that.)

While Shell serenades us with tales of LNG’s virtues – burning half the CO2 of coal and 30% less than oil – the reality is that it’s still a fossil fuel. Some pesky, data-hugging top 20 shareholder remarked that they doubt Shell can hit their current emission targets with this new infatuation for LNG. But hey, who needs targets when you’ve got a green synthetic version in the works? Right?

In conclusion, while Shell’s commitment to a “balanced energy transition” is truly heartwarming, it seems that when faced with the siren call of LNG profits, even the most ardent of environmental promises can be, let’s say, conveniently flexible.

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