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Shell launches major cost-cutting drive to prepare for energy transition

Royal Dutch Shell is looking to slash up to 40% off the cost of producing oil and gas in a major drive to save cash so it can overhaul its business and focus more on renewable energy and power markets.

Shell’s new cost-cutting review, known internally as Project Reshape and expected to be completed this year, will affect its three main divisions and any savings will come on top of a $4 billion target set in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. Reducing costs is vital for Shell’s plans to move into the power sector and renewables where margins are relatively low. Competition is also likely to intensify with utilities and rival oil firms including BP and Total all battling for market share as economies around the world go green.

“We had a great model but is it right for the future? There will be differences, this is not just about structure but culture and about the type of company we want to be,” said a senior Shell source, who declined to be named.

Last year, Shell’s overall operating costs came to $38 billion and capital spending totalled $24 billion.

The company’s integrated gas division, which runs Shell’s liquefied natural gas (LNG) operations as well as some gas production, is also looking at deep cuts, the sources said.

For downstream, the review is focusing on cutting costs from Shell’s network of 45,000 service stations - the world’s biggest - which is seen as one its “most high-value activities” and is expected to play a pivotal role in the transition, two more sources involved with the review told Reuters.

Besides cutting costs at its downstream retail business, Shell is pressing ahead with plans to reduce the number of its oil refineries to 10 from 17 last year. It has already agreed to sell three.

The review of refining operations also includes finding ways to sharply increase the production of low-carbon fuels such biofuels, chemicals and lubricants. That could be done by using low-carbon raw materials such as cooking oil, one source said.

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