“I had no choice.” That is the argument with which the multinational Shell has defended its decision to buy oil from Russia, despite the invasion and bombing of Ukraine.
In a statement, the oil company confirmed that it had bought a shipment of Russian crude at a discount on Friday, saying it had been a “difficult” decision.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba attacked the oil company in a Twitter message, asking: “Doesn’t Russian oil smell like Ukrainian blood to you?” .
So far, Western countries have not imposed sanctions on Russian oil imports, fearing it will spike already-record energy prices around the world.
But on Sunday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said his country is now in “active discussions” with European partners about whether to ban them while maintaining a “steady global supply.”
Russia is the world’s second largest producer of crude oil after Saudi Arabia and supplies about a third of Europe’s needs.
Maintain supply in Europe
Commenting on its decision, Shell said it was forced to buy oil from Russia to maintain fuel supplies to Europe.
The company said it remains “dismayed by the war in Ukraine” and has halted most activities related to Russian oil, but added that the situation with crude supplies is “highly complex.”
Russian oil currently accounts for about 8% of Shell’s supplies. One of that company’s refineries – which produces diesel, gasoline and other products – is also among the largest in Europe.
“To be clear, without an uninterrupted supply of crude oil to refineries, the energy industry cannot ensure the continued supply of essential products to people across Europe for the coming weeks,” a Shell spokesman said.
“Shipments from alternative sources would not have arrived in time to avoid market supply disruptions. We do not take this decision lightly and understand the weight of sentiment in this regard,” he added.
The oil company also said it will try to choose alternatives to Russian oil “whenever possible” and that profits from Russian oil will go to a fund dedicated to helping people in Ukraine.
The recent purchase came shortly after Shell announced that it would end all its joint ventures with Russian energy company Gazprom following the invasion of Ukraine.
That will involve the company selling its 27.5% stake in a major liquefied natural gas plant and a 50% stake in two Siberian oilfield projects.
It will also end its involvement in the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline between Russia and Germany. The German government had already suspended the commissioning of the 1,200 km pipeline that runs under the Baltic Sea.
In a statement issued last Monday, Shell said it expected the measure, which will also apply to any “entities related” to Gazprom, to be worth around $3 billion. The associated costs will be recorded on your balance sheet at the end of this year.
Shell followed BP, which had already announced it would sell its stake in Russian state oil giant Rosneft, potentially costing it $25 billion.
BP said earlier this week that it was too early to say how or to whom its Rosneft stake would be sold.
Norwegian oil and gas producer Equinor also announced its exit from Russia, saying the conflict made its current position in that country “untenable.”
- BBC News World