Shell plans job cuts in the offshore wind energy sector

Shell Plc is preparing to cut staff from its offshore wind business as Chief Executive Officer Wael Sawan moves the company away from the capital-intensive renewable energy sector.

The British oil company will begin layoffs within months, mainly in Europe, according to people familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified because the information is private.

“We focus on selected markets and segments to deliver the most value to our investors and customers,” a Shell spokesperson said. “Shell is exploring how it can continue to compete for offshore wind projects in priority markets, while maintaining our focus on performance, discipline and simplification.”

Shell had invested heavily in offshore wind energy, aiming to leverage its experience extracting oil and gas at sea to become a leader in the technology. But rising costs in the sector and a renewed focus on driving returns for shareholders under Sawan have led to the company’s retreat from the green energy source.

Since taking on the role of CEO early last year, Sawan has put pressure on business divisions to improve performance and profitability. In June 2023, he presented a plan to reduce “structural costs” by as much as $3 billion by the end of 2025. The offshore wind cuts follow layoffs that began at the low-carbon solutions unit earlier this year.

Shell has built a team, focused in the Netherlands, on developing and building offshore wind farms. But the company’s limited spending left a large team with less to do than previously expected.

The staff cuts follow the departure of a number of key figures in the offshore wind sector, including Thomas Brostrom, the head of the European renewables division, and Melissa Read, the head of the UK offshore wind unit.

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