Shell boss ‘still unhappy’ over safety record despite redoubling of efforts

Ben van Beurden Photographer: Aaron M. Sprecher/Bloomberg
Ben van Beurden Photographer: Aaron M. Sprecher/Bloomberg

The boss of oil giant Shell has admitted he is “still unhappy” with the firm’s safety performance, despite pledging a redoubling of efforts in 2018.

Chief executive, Ben van Beurden, raised a call to redouble the firm’s focus on safety last year after a number of serious incidents in 2017.

An overturned tanker spill and explosion in Pakistan caused the tragic death of 200 people, while there were also fatalities in Canada and Nigeria.

Mr van Beurden added he is also focusing on restoring trust in the oil firm.

He said: “I’m still unhappy with our safety performance.

“In 2018, sadly two people died on our watch – one at a refinery in Germany and another at an onshore well in the USA.

“More broadly, the safety performance at our facilities has improved, but our performance on personal safety is worse than the previous year.

“We have to step up our efforts to keep people safe.”

Mr van Beurden also said that he can see that trust has noticed an “eroding” or trust in the UK, the Netherlands and the USA.

Shell came under heavy criticism from climate groups in 2018, with high profile opposition coming from investor group Follow This.

The firm also faced widespread shareholder opposition over chief executive pay last year.

Mr van Beurden said: “I feel an attack on Shell as an attack on my personal integrity. It’s something I feel deeply, probably at least once a day. If I can reduce that to once every other day, I’ll know that we are making progress.

“Of our three strategic ambitions – to become a world-class investment case, to thrive through the transition to lower-carbon energy and to have a strong societal licence to operate – I’m confident that we can achieve the first two.

“But I can’t see a sure path towards strengthening our societal licence to operate just yet.

“We need to change people’s perceptions through better performance and behaviours. And we need to have a better dialogue with civil society in some parts of the world.”

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