Anglo-Dutch supermajor Shell reported a profit of 4.85 billion for 2020, down 87 percent on the year, from $16.46 billion booked for 2019.
While the result was negatively affected by the pandemic, Shell still managed to remain in the black, unlike peers including BP and Exxon. The company was also upbeat for this quarter, raising its dividend to $0.1735 per share from $0.1665 per share to be distributed for the final quarter of 2020.
“2020 was an extraordinary year,” chief executive Ben van Beurden said at the release of Shell’s results. “We have taken tough but decisive actions and demonstrated highly resilient operational delivery while caring for our people, customers and communities. We are coming out of 2020 with a stronger balance sheet, ready to accelerate our strategy and make the future of energy. We are committed to our progressive dividend policy and expect to grow our US dollar dividend per share by around 4% as of the first quarter 2021.”
Like the rest of the European supermajors, Shell has accelerated its shift to renewable energy and other new business ventures, spurred by the oil price crash brought about by the pandemic that wreaked havoc on spending plans and growth strategies. Its latest move in that direction was the acquisition of the biggest EV charging network in the UK, ubitricity, for which the company did not disclose any financial details.
In the meantime, however, in addition to the price-related troubles, Shell was recently hit with a Dutch court’s ruling it was responsible for two oil spills that happened in Nigeria 13 years ago. The ruling of the Dutch court is setting a precedent for future lawsuits brought against oil firms in the countries where they are based, instead of the countries where oil spills or oil pollution has allegedly taken place.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Shell’s and other European oil supermajors’ drive to greenwash themselves is no more than a ploy to burnish their environmental credentials and justify the huge losses they suffered in 2020, the drastic cuts they made to dividends and making thousands of employees redundant.
The minute global oil demand and crude oil prices start to surge, they will all forget about their greenwashing drive and revert to the core business that has sustained them for ages, namely oil and gas.
Dr Mamdouh G Salameh
International Oil Economist
Visiting Professor of Energy Economics at ESCP Europe Business School, London