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Shell CEO Cries Over Biden’s LNG Timeout, Fears for Big Oil’s Fragile Confidence

Posted by John Donovan: 4 Feb 24

Oh, the horror, the absolute tragedy! Shell’s CEO, Wael Sawan, has sounded the alarm bells, folks. It seems that President Joe Biden’s audacious pause on approvals for new liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminals is causing a bit of a kerfuffle among the oil elites. Sawan, leading the charge with a violin so small you’d need a microscope to see it, warns that this move will “erode confidence” in the sacred halls of the fossil fuel industry, that bastion of stability in our ever-changing world.

Let’s set the stage: London | Houston | – where the top execs of the oil realm are having a bit of a moment. They’re not just any execs, though; they’re the kind who’ve bet the farm on LNG, dreaming of a future where the demand for gas goes up, even as the rest of us are trying to kick the fossil fuel habit.

“I don’t think the recent announcement by the administration necessarily impacts, in the short or medium term, the supply of LNG, but I do think it erodes confidence in the longer term,” bemoans Shell’s own maestro, Sawan, in an interview that could double as a script for a soap opera.

But wait, there’s more drama! Shell’s tiff with Venture Global LNG over a snubbed multi-billion-dollar supply contract adds another layer to this saga. With the poise of a jilted lover, Shell, alongside BP, has launched arbitration proceedings, while Venture Global plays it cool, denying any wrongdoing. Sawan, clutching his pearls, suggests this telenovela, combined with Biden’s audacity, is making everyone question the “stability and security” of US LNG. Oh, the humanity!

The plot twist? Biden’s decision is seen as a cheeky move to woo the climate-conscious crowd in an election year, leaving Shell and its cronies worried about their fossil fuel love affair becoming a bit too public. Europe, having swapped Russian gas for the American variety post-Ukraine invasion, is caught in this awkward love triangle, as the world side-eyes the carbon footprint left by their fossil fuel fling.

Yet, Sawan and his band of merry men argue that LNG is the knight in shining armour for the energy transition, casting it as the lesser evil compared to coal and oil. With plans to splash out $US4 billion a year on LNG projects until 2025, Shell is betting big on gas, hoping to boost sales by 20 to 30 per cent by 2030. After all, who cares about methane leaks and their pesky greenhouse effect when there’s money to be made?

Shell, a pioneer in the LNG game since shipping the first commercial cargo from Algeria to the UK in 1964, holds onto the dream of a world where gas is king. Sawan, waxing poetic about the industry’s “reliability [and] long-term security,” seems to forget that the real security at stake is that of our planet, not the profit margins of oil giants.

So, as Shell weeps over the potential erosion of confidence, the rest of us are left wondering, “What the actual f**k?” Is the future of energy a playground for the rich and powerful, or can we finally call time on the fossil fuel fiesta? Only time will tell, but for now, Sawan’s lament is a symphony playing on the world’s smallest violin. Encore, anyone?

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