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OE17: Ben van Beurden - more work to be done

By  OE Staff Tuesday, 05 September 2017 05:25

When it comes to oil industry heavy weights, the CEOs of Shell and BP are up there. At SPE Offshore Europe today, plenary session delegates will hear from both, alongside Wood Group CEO Robin Watson, in this morning’s plenary session. We caught up with Shell CEO Ben van Beurden in advance.

He’s been CEO at Shell since January 2014, having joined Shell in 1983,with a Master’s Degree in Chemical Engineering. He most recently hit the headlines for stating that his next car would be electric – a decision not lost at this year’s Embracing New Realities: Reinventing our Industry-themed event.  

The industry has achieved a lot over the past 2-3 years, what still needs to be done?

Yes, great strides have been made, and Shell’s UK staff have shown much effort, flexibility and determination to make progress. But the work is not done and the focus on costs and competitiveness needs to continue because the basin still needs to earn its right to grow.  It is competing internationally for investment from across the industry. It can, and must, be attractive for that investment on an international basis.

Are we getting enough out of existing facilities?

The UK has an excellent track record of maximizing the value from assets – just think of Shell’s Brent field. It was expected to be viable for 25 years but it has now been producing for over 40 years. But this is a journey of continuous improvement and we should continue to challenge ourselves to find ways to extract more value from the facilities and infrastructure we have.

What will it take to get more wells drilled?  

It is a similar story – continuing to focus on costs and looking at innovative ways to fund the drilling of prospects. Work must also continue to ensure the investment landscape is good and stable. Renewable energies are once again becoming a focus for majors. What synergies do you see?  Many of the technical and engineering skills that are core to offshore oil and gas are also transferable to offshore renewables. There are undoubtedly opportunities for both sectors to learn from each other, be it around cost competitiveness, lean construction techniques or from the oil and gas industry’s experience of decommissioning – offshore wind farms will, in time, require cost-effective decommissioning.

What will be your main message at SPE Offshore Europe?

Shell has a long history in the UK and plans to be part of the future of the North Sea as the company transforms into a world-class investment case. This journey requires a consistent focus on costs and our UK Upstream business has shown the way by stripping out unnecessary spending through innovation and new ways of working. Shell fully supports the shared aim of the industry and the UK government to maximise the economic recovery of resources from the North Sea. The company believes that if costs are low, the investment landscape is right, and people can innovate as they have done time and time again, then the world will still be relying on the work done here in the North Sea for a long time to come.

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2018-09-20 09:47:08am