Shell Pauses Dutch Biofuels Project Due to Market Decline

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Shell to Pause Dutch Biofuels Project Due to Market Conditions

Shell will halt construction on one of Europe’s largest biofuel plants because of weak market conditions, marking another setback for low-carbon projects as CEO Wael Sawan aims to increase returns. This follows BP’s recent announcement of pausing two biofuel projects in Germany and the U.S.

Since Sawan took office in January 2023, Shell has shifted its focus to more profitable operations in oil and gas by canceling and selling renewable and hydrogen projects, withdrawing from European and Chinese power markets, and divesting refineries. As a result, Shell’s shares rose by 1.3% and have increased by over 12.5% this year.

Initially approved in September 2021, the 820,000-ton-a-year plant in the Netherlands was scheduled to start production in 2025, but now it is expected to be operational towards the end of the decade. Located at Shell’s chemicals park in Rotterdam, the facility was set to produce sustainable aviation fuel and renewable diesel from waste.

Biofuel prices have recently dropped due to lower demand in Europe and increased supplies in the U.S. Analysts predict the market will remain well-supplied as more production facilities come online. In light of this, Shell stated that the decision to pause construction will reduce contractor numbers on-site and slow down activity to control costs and optimize project sequencing.

UBS analyst Joshua Stone noted that the pause aligns with Shell’s strategy to prioritize returns, highlighting the challenges in the advanced biofuels market. Shell will assess the project’s commercial viability and may consider an impairment, with further details expected in its quarterly trading update.

Huibert Vigeveno, Shell’s downstream head, emphasized the company’s commitment to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050, with low-carbon fuels being a crucial part of their strategy.

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