A trio of oil & gas giants – Shell, Repsol and Petronas – was rapped by the UK’s advertising watchdog for misleading consumers over the level of renewables and other green energy sources in their business mix.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) in the case of Shell said TV and YouTube advertising depicting wind turbines and electric vehicles and the slogan “the UK is READY for cleaner energy” were “likely to mislead” in the form previously used.

The ASA said: “The overall impression that a significant proportion of Shell’s business comprised lower-carbon energy products, further information about the proportion of Shell’s overall business model that comprised lower-carbon energy products was material information that should have been included.”

The watchdog added: “We told Shell UK Ltd to ensure that their future ads featuring environmental claims did not mislead by exaggerating or, omitting material information about, the proportion of their business activities that were comprised of lower carbon activities.”

Like other oil & gas giants Shell is under pressure from activists and some investors over the future level of its commitment to green growth compared to its resurgently profitable core hydrocarbons activities.

The supermajor’s recent annual shareholders meeting was disrupted by protestors demanding an end to oil & gas production, and an investor day in New York next week will be closely watched for signs of its direction under new CEO Wael Sawan.

Shell in its defence had told the ASA that consumers would interpret the ads, which focused on the activities of its UK retail arm Shell Energy, “as merely emphasising that Shell Energy supplied renewable electricity to UK homes, that Shell was involved in the development of offshore windfarms, and that, in line with their aim to increase potential EV purchasers’ confidence in the availability of chargers, Shell was in the process of rapidly expanding its existing EV charging infrastructure”.

Shell was not the only oil & gas group in the ASA’s firing line. The watchdog said UK ads relating to green energy activities by Spain’s Repsol and Malaysia's Petronas were misleading because they omitted further details and context of the companies’ overall activities.

All three oil giants were told the ads concerned must not appear again in their previous form.