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Energy & Science

Look Who’s Talking About Zero Emissions

In an interview, Shell CEO Ben van Beurden insists he doesn’t run an oil company any more.

Ben van Beurden

Ben van Beurden

Photographer: Erik Tanner

Royal Dutch Shell Plc had been turning out about 2.7 million barrels of oil each day until the novel coronavirus took hold of the world. Demand for oil, the company’s core product, dropped almost a third in April, and the price of West Texas Intermediate briefly dipped into negative numbers for the first time.

It’s not easy to run an oil major when people suddenly stop needing oil. Chief Executive Officer Ben van Beurden responded by slashing spending and cutting Shell’s dividend for the first time since World War II. And, as critics warned, the company remains saddled with debt from its $53 billion acquisition of BG Group in 2015.