Ben van Beurden, the chief executive of energy major Shell, has suggested that governments may need to look at taxing energy companies more to relieve the soaring energy bills of poorer consumers.
Speaking in London at the Energy Intelligence Forum, van Beurden said:
“One way or another there needs to be government intervention. Protecting the poorest, that probably may then mean that governments need to tax people in this room to pay for it. I think we just have to accept as a society—it can be done smartly and not so smartly.”
He added that while there was certainly a conversation to be had about how to do it, he said he believed it was inevitable. While Shell is a wide-ranging business that includes fuel and energy retail, renewable energy generation, and lubricants like the Shell Rimula commercial vehicle oil, it has, like many companies, made substantial profits from its upstream oil and gas business due to high prices following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The UK Government introduced a windfall tax on North Sea profits earlier in the year, while the EU recently agreed to levy windfall profits and direct the funds to businesses and consumers.
The Dutchman, who is due to step down as CEO in the New Year, was less positive about discussions about capping the price of gas in Europe, saying that removing the market signal could make it harder to replace Russian supplies of gas to Europe with gas from alternative sources.