Shell has seen resignations by a string of executives after disagreements over the pace and extent of the oil & gas supermajor’s energy transition plans, it was claimed on Wednesday, as the company hit back by telling Recharge it's strengthening its team for a push to net zero.
The Financial Times identified three senior executives involved in Shell’s various clean energy operations who have all left the company in recent weeks, and cited sources saying others are expected to leave the group in the coming months.
The newspaper quoted sources close to the matter suggesting the main reason for the departures was that those involved wanted to see more decisive moves away from fossil operations.
One was quoted saying: “People are really questioning if there will be any change at all.
“Part of the frustration is that you see the potential, but the mindset isn’t there among senior leaders for anything radical.”
Recharge understands that solar, storage and onshore wind head Marc van Gerven, Eric Bradley of Shell's distributed energy division, and Katherine Dixon, VP strategy, energy transition, have all left their roles. Dixon is now chief counsellor, transition and partnerships, at the International Energy Agency, according to her Linkedin page.
Dorine Bosman, VP for offshore wind, will leave by the end of this year, Recharge understands.
A Shell spokesperson told Recharge: “We remain firmly focused on leading in the energy transition. Doing this means reshaping Shell to enable the delivery of our strategy, to be nimbler and more competitive.
“We are not starting from scratch, but we are taking strong, significant steps to ensure we have the right organisation to deliver on our ambition to be a net zero emissions energy business by 2050, or sooner.”
Shell has this year made several key appointments in its New Energies unit, with Elisabeth Brinton taking over as head of the division in April from long-serving predecessor Mark Gainsborough.
Shell announced in October that former Orsted North America offshore wind chief Thomas Brostrom will join the company as its new senior vice president to head up its renewables business in 2021.
The company unveiled plans earlier this year to become carbon neutral by 2050, promising more spending on renewables.
Recharge carried a story in June on how Shell had started hatching plans for a massive company-wide restructuring in response to the Covid-19 pandemic and to position it for the shift to greener energy.
But while Shell has laid down a marker in several key renewable energy sectors including offshore wind, storage and green hydrogen, it has yet to announce specific targets of the sort unveiled in 2020 by fellow supermajors Total and BP.
Shell chief executive Ben van Beurden has indicated Shell is currently “going through the design phases” of exactly what its new organisation will look like, with a clear picture set to emerge in time for a strategy update due to take place in February 2021.
However, van Beurden has also insisted the long-term fundamentals of Shell’s business remain strong and that the world will still require oil and gas for many years to come despite the need to cut carbon emissions.
Capgemini said in its latest World Energy Markets Observatory report last month that European oil & gas supermajors are slowly ramping up their commitments to the energy transition but the wider petroleum industry has “remained steady in its identity and role” in the global energy mix, with the sector investing less than 1% of its capital in non-fossil-based projects – making climate action targets “very challenging to reach”.