Shell welcomes electric car future

Energy
| The European | 2 November 2017
Shell service station in the US

Shell sees oil demand peaking by late 2020s as electric car sales grow. The world’s oil consumption could peak as early as the end of the next decade as electric vehicles become more popular, Royal Dutch Shell Chief Executive Ben van Beurden said recently.

The prospect of a decline in oil consumption after more than a century of growth as the world switches to burning cleaner fuels is gathering pace. Britain recently announced plans to ban diesel and gasoline vehicles by 2040, following a similar move by France.

“I think they are very welcome announcements, they are also very needed announcements,” van Beurden told reporters after Europe’s biggest oil company reported a sharp rise in quarterly profits recently.

Under the Anglo-Dutch company’s most aggressive scenario of battery-powered vehicles replacing traditional internal combustion engines, consumption of oil will peak in the early 2030s, he said.

With a high use of biofuels in the mix, demand could peak by the late 2020s, he added.

But oil will still be needed for decades to come as it is likely to remain the main fuel for planes, ships and heavy trucks, van Beurden told reporters.

“Even if the UK, France and the Western world in general will all go to 100 percent electric vehicles, that would be great, but that wouldn’t be enough… We still have less advanced economics that cannot do that switch,” he added.

In an interview with Bloomberg TV van Beurden said he would opt for an electric car as his next vehicle purchase.

The outlook from the world’s second-largest oil and gas company contrasts with others in the sector. Energy watchdog International Energy Agency does not expect oil demand to peak before 2040.

Shell, which has been producing oil since 1907, and its peers are increasingly switching to less-polluting natural gas production as the world transitions to a low carbon emission energy system.

The company launched a new energies division last year through which it aims to invest up to $1 billion a year by 2020 in renewable energy, biofuels and hydrogen.

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