How to protect the poorest in the face of the energy crisis?

Shell boss Ben van Beurden said at an industry conference in London on Tuesday that governments were likely to have to tax energy companies more.

“You cannot have a market that behaves in such a way (…) that it will inflict damage on a significant part of society,” he said during a question and answer session. at the Energy Intelligence Forum conference.

“Somehow it takes government intervention that results in (…) protection for the poorest and that probably means governments have to tax the people in this room to pay for that,” said he elaborated in front of an audience of executives and directors of energy companies.

“I believe that we have to accept this social reality”, he insisted, adding however that “it could be done intelligently or not”.

Soaring profits

The leader was referring to the taxation of energy companies at a time when their profits have soared since the war in Ukraine, which has caused oil and gas prices to soar in recent months, even though they have fallen back from peaks reached just after the start of the Russian offensive.

Ben van Beurden and Shell did not comment on the proper way to tax companies in the sector, which notably argued against a special tax which had been decided by the predecessor of the Chancellor of the Exchequer Kwasi Kwarteng and which the new Conservative government of Liz Truss is not going to expand.

The leader, who has just announced that he will be leaving office at the end of 2022, also expressed doubts about the idea of ​​a price cap for Russian oil.

Russian oil price peak

Several countries are calling for limiting the sale price of Russian oil to undermine the windfall allowing Moscow to finance, in particular, its military intervention in Ukraine.

In September, the G7 countries had thus decided to “urgently” cap the price, a complex mechanism to put in place, in particular by inviting a “broad coalition” of countries to implement it.

"I find it hard to understand how a cap on Russian oil prices can be effective," Ben van Beurden said during the Energy Intelligence Forum conference, according to comments relayed on Twitter.

“Intervening in complex energy markets will be very difficult.

Governments need to consult with market experts on what they can and cannot do in terms of interventions,” he continued.


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  • Economy

  • Shell

  • Gas

  • Energy

  • Inflation

  • War in Ukraine