Shell splits up global renewable power unit in new CEO’s shakeup

LNG tanker Source: Shell

Shell plc is splitting up its global renewable power business as new Chief Executive Officer Wael Sawan puts his imprint on the energy giant. 

Sawan already reshaped his top management team in January — just a few weeks into the job — by combining natural gas and oil operations and merging renewables with refining and marketing as he sought to streamline the company and boost returns. The latest change embeds operations such as wind and solar within regional divisions of Shell Energy, the company’s power business.

Like its closest peer BP Plc, Shell has signaled a renewed focus on its oil and gas business, which delivered record profits last year after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine drove up energy prices. After years of messaging that emphasized climate plans, major oil companies are giving greater priority to short-term energy security, while maintaining long-term net-zero emissions goals. 

Shell is eliminating the global role of executive vice-president for renewable generation held by Thomas Brostrom, who was hired from Danish renewable power giant Orsted A/S, according to an internal document seen by Bloomberg News. The production of power from renewable sources will now be overseen by the regional heads of Shell Energy reporting to Executive Vice President Steve Hill, according to the document.

The restructuring also appoints Anna Mascolo as executive vice president for low carbon products and sectors, to oversee a variety of businesses including carbon capture, biofuels and nature-based solutions, according to the document. 

Hill and Mascolo report to Huibert Vigeveno, who runs the downstream and renewables division and sits on Shell’s executive committee.

A Shell spokesman confirmed the changes and said that combining downstream and renewables in a single directorate strengthens the businesses by bringing together all the elements of low- and zero-carbon energy. Brostrom will remain at the company as senior vice president for Shell Energy in Europe and Asia, overseeing all offshore wind globally, he said.  

Sawan’s shift in focus means Shell’s natural gas business will continue to grow in a world that’s desperate for the fuel. And after years of steadily expanding investment in the company’s low-carbon and renewables business, spending on the unit will remain flat.

© 2023 Bloomberg L.P.

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