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Shell’s ‘Lean and Mean’ Plan: A Masterclass in Selective Hearing and Eco-Selective Memory

Posted by John Donovan: 5 November 2023

As the world cries for renewable energy, Shell’s new CEO, Wael Sawan, has concocted a delicious strategy that conveniently forgets those pesky green initiatives that don’t promise massive paychecks. The plan? Embrace the fossil fuels that keep investors warm and toasty, while giving the cold shoulder to the less profitable ventures in the green space.

Sawan, with a twinkle in his eye, declares it’s time for Shell to get “leaner” and more “disciplined,” as reported by the Financial Times. Because, in the end, who needs a full-bodied approach to saving the planet when a slimmed-down, oil-guzzling figure will do just fine?

The real kicker? As Shell waves goodbye to 200 employees in the low-carbon solutions division, with another 130 trembling in the review room, it trumpets the construction of Europe’s largest green hydrogen plant. Talk about giving with one hand and taking with the other!

And let’s not overlook the corporate musical chairs, with senior executives exiting stage left, as Shell’s renewable ambitions dim like the last flickers of a candle. “It’s not what he’s said, it’s what he hasn’t said,” murmurs a recently departed exec about Sawan’s hush-hush approach to eco-promises.

Nevertheless, Sawan assures us that Shell’s heart is still green, with a “multi-energy” transformation in the works, aiming for that golden net-zero by 2050. But let’s not “pretend to lead” where we can’t cash in, shall we?

Investors are clapping until their hands hurt, as Shell shares reach dizzying heights, and the company doubles down on its “world-leading” gas business. Because nothing says “renewable” like selling 20 to 30 percent more liquefied natural gas by 2030.

Oh, and if that means Shell has to tweak those emission reduction targets? Well, that’s a bridge to cross when the water rises, right? After all, as Sawan muses, LNG has been the unsung hero, allowing for a marvelous “coal to gas switching” in China.

So here’s to Shell’s “sensible, focused approach” to profiting from the decarbonisation trend—just make sure it aligns with the bottom line, and everyone’s happy. Shell, ever the beacon of transparency, graciously invites anyone to correct any factual inaccuracies, but who would dare to suggest that this green-tinged oil giant isn’t as pure as the driven snow?

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