Shell will cut 200 jobs in clean energy division

Environment

An employee handles a pump at a hydrogen refueling point at a Royal Dutch Shell Plc gas station in Berlin, Germany, on Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2021.
Krisztian Bocsi | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Shell will cut 200 positions within its low-carbon solutions unit in 2024, a spokesperson confirmed to CNBC on Wednesday.

The company’s low-carbon division helps spearhead Shell’s transition to clean energy including hydrogen, given its pledge to become a “net-zero emissions energy business” by 2050. The company will switch some of the jobs in question to other divisions within Shell’s over 90,000-employee workforce, and an additional 130 roles will be put “under review” throughout 2024, said the spokesperson.

The job cuts are a part of a broader overhaul by Shell CEO Wael Sawan, who took the helm in January, bullish on the company’s ability to decarbonize, despite the fact that its bottom line still relies on its oil and gas output. The decision to downsize also follows Shell’s failure to secure a grant from the $7 billion of federal funding to develop hydrogen energy, which was distributed earlier this month.

Shell had applied for the funding with a hydrogen hub in Louisiana but was ultimately not on the list of seven hubs that received a grant this round. The company said it is still waiting for a formal explanation from the Department of Energy on why its Louisiana hub was not selected.

In the meantime, according to the spokesperson, Shell is planning $10-15 billion of low-carbon energy investment over the next two years, which will include biofuels, hydrogen, carbon capture and electric vehicle charging. Last July, the company announced its investment in the creation of one of Europe’s largest hydrogen energy plants.

In June, the company announced that it would maintain its levels of oil production through 2030 in order to boost investor confidence as its renewables sagged.

“We will invest in the models that work – those with the highest returns that play to our strengths,” Sawan said at the time, six months into the role.

Shell, along with many major oil companies, has come under fire for its role in perpetuating climate change. It has been sued in the past for its failure to keep up with the climate goals outlined in the Paris Agreement. The company is also currently among the oil giants that California is suing for allegedly deceiving the public about the realities of climate change.

The question of how Big Oil companies like Shell can fit into a clean energy future is existential for its business. Competitors like Exxon Mobil and Chevron recently doubled down on their commitments to fossil fuels with two major oil acquisitions.

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