The Times has a piece today about oil company moves into renewables. But the reality is that 95% of the Oil/Gas multinationals’ time and efforts are focused on their traditional hydrocarbon businesses. None of them has the corporate memory and mindset to be serious players in renewables. It is difficult to see their investments in non hydrocarbon business areas as being anything but token.
Shell has a very long history of tentative experiment in step out activities none of which survives today. From Nuclear Power, Coal, Agrochemicals, Metals, Forestry, Power Generation, Solar, Wind, Shell has stepped in and out in an almost whimsical fashion.
The necessary skills and experience to run (say) a wind energy business are almost entirely different to those to run a virtually integrated oil or gas operation. Of course the financial clout of an Exxon, BP or Shell means that they could buy a company in a new business area. But it never works. Look at Shell with Billiton. The strategy was that the mining and exploitation of metals was analogous to hydrocarbons. It took Shell more than a decade to find out that it wasn’t.
The truth is that these companies are not energy corporations at all but oil/gas giants. The do the search for, production, transportation, refining, trading and marketing of hydrocarbons well. But, in truth, not much else.