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No choice but to invest in oil, says Shell CEO

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Logo da Shell é visto em posto de gasolina em Buenos Aires, na Argentina  (Foto: Marcos Brindicci/Reuters)

Shell Logo (Photo: Marcos Brindicci / Reuters)

Anglo-Dutch oil company Shell still sees many opportunities to make money from oil and gas in the coming decades, even as investors and governments are increasing pressure on energy companies due to climate change, the company's chief executive said.

In an interview with Reuters, Ben van Beurden expressed concern that some shareholders might abandon the world's second-largest listed energy company because of what he called the oil and gas demonization and unjustified concerns that his business model was unsustainable.

The 61-year-old Dutch executive in recent years has become one of the industry's most prominent voices advocating action against global warming following the Paris climate agreement.

Shell, which supplies about 3 percent of the world's energy, set out in 2017 a plan to halve the intensity of its greenhouse gas emissions by the middle of the century, based largely on building one of the world's largest energy businesses. energy of the world.

Still, the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by Shell's operations and the products it sells increased 2.5% between 2017 and 2018.

Van Beurden rejected a growing chorus of climate activists and parts of the investor community to radically transform the 112-year-old Anglo-Dutch company's traditional business model.

"Despite what many activists say, it is totally legitimate to invest in oil and gas because the world demands it," he said. "We have no choice but to invest in long-term projects," he added.

Shell has long insisted that shifting oil and gas to cleaner sources of energy will take decades as demand for transportation and plastics continues to grow. Investors warned, however, that oil companies often rely on forecasts that underestimate the pace of change.

Shell plans to launch more than 35 new oil and gas projects by 2025, according to an investor presentation in June.

Oil and gas remain the backbone of profits for Shell, London's largest FTSE listed company. The company is the largest private pre-salt producer in Brazil and Petrobras' main partner in the region.

While oil and gas now account for Shell's entire free cash flow, it predicts gradual diversification over the next two decades. Oil and gas are expected to provide one third of free cash flow, but the remainder comes from energy and chemicals.

Oil and gas projects such as processing plants, deepwater platforms and chemical plants take billions of dollars to develop and operate for decades.

(Reporting by Ron Bousso and Dmitry Zhannikov)

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