Those who know me will know that I’m not a sycophantic supporter of the Shell establishment – either as a Pensioner or for 40 years as an employee. We did a lot wrong and in some cases shamefully so. But overall the Shell I knew was run by able, decent and convivial colleagues. I loved (almost) every moment!
I viewed the shenanigans at the AGM as reported in the media with alarm. The ignorance and the bias of the protesters was shocking. But I criticise the company as well. Shell is primarily a hydrocarbon enterprise. And, in the main, we do it well. One of the reasons for this is that, in Tom Peters’ phrase, we stick to our knitting. A raft of step out activities have been tried and in the main, from Coal to Metals to Forestry to Solar to Power Generation (and the rest) we failed.
The world will need Oil and Gas for a very long time. This is our knitting and we should stick to it and continue to do it well. The protestors object to Shell producing and marketing hydrocarbons , to satisfying demand. We do not create demand, that’s our customers. We meet it, that’s us.
I want our communications to be more confident and to tell the green lobby some home truths. Many energy demand segments are “oil specific” for the forseeable future. As a former Energy planner I can explain this. The Marine and Aviation sectors will stay oil specific – and they are very large. Switching from Gas to alternatives is a very long term thing in many sectors – home heating in northern Europe for example. And also cars and commercial road transport.
We don’t need to defend what we do, but we do need to explain it better. We need to explain our sources and application of funds better. We need to explain our approach to tax – it’s perfectly legitimate to minimise our tax liabilities within the law. Who the heck pays tax they don’t need to ?
There is no need to be apologetic or diffident. But there’s no need to be myopic either. I worked on Scenarios a couple of times – we were pioneers in this technique. It’s exactly what the world needs now. Academically robust truths not polemics and protests.