Rather unexpectedly, Royal Dutch Shell has announced it wants to leave the Netherlands and move to Britain and change its name from “Royal Dutch Shell” to plainly “Shell”. 114 years of Dutch oil exploration and exploitation, that began in the Dutch East Indies, come to an abrupt end. This means quite a bloodletting for the Dutch Treasury, think hundreds of millions. But most of the 8500 jobs will remain in the Netherlands, only the managers will move to London, “less than 10 people”. The shareholders have yet to approve.
Motivations? The refusal of the Dutch government to cancel the dividend tax may have played a role. Shell says that it wants to streamline its business and that dual nationality makes operations more complex. I personally think that Shell is not so much leaving the Netherlands, but rather the EU and its fossil-fuel-free-in-1-generation policy. For the same reason, it is not so much moving to Brexit-Britain, but rather to the more fossil-fuel-friendly Anglo-Saxon world. Attempts by Dutch clubs like “Follow This”, to turn Shell in a renewable energy company, have failed dramatically. Perhaps that for Shell, the business climate in the UK is friendlier, where there will be no Dutch judges, forcing the company to reduce emissions or no Dutch pension funds, implicitly declaring Shell a pariah, by withdrawing entirely from the fossil fuel business.
How to judge this development? Well, if you say “A”, you need to say “B” too. We want to get rid of fossil fuel and, by implication, in the end we want to get rid of the business of Shell. Shell kept the honor to itself and dumped the Netherlands before the Netherlands dumped Shell, so be it. Geopolitically, the Netherlands just became less Anglo and more continental European, a development that began in earnest after WW2, when the Dutch played a significant role in initiating the European project. This is a good development, because Europe is the future, where the Anglos are about to step down from planetary pole position.
What is going to replace Shell?
How about Royal Dutch Gasunie? Or rather, skipping the English, the language of the 20th century and opt for: Koninklijke Nederlandse Gasunie. Gasunie served the Netherlands well with its natural gas exploration and distribution, now it intends to become a big player in the hydrogen business. The Netherlands has an extremely strong entrepreneurial tradition. If we could create a global player like Royal Dutch Shell, we can do that again with Gasunie.
Shell is dead, long live Gasunie!
[source] Gasunie HQ Groningen.
[vk.nl] – Na Unilever vertrekt ook Shell. Hoe erg is dat voor Nederland?
[ed.nl] – Shell wil niet langer ‘Royal Dutch’ zijn en wordt Brits
[dailymail.co.uk] – Minister hails ‘vote of confidence’ for Brexit Britain as Shell moves its HQ to London from the Netherlands and plans to scrap ‘Royal Dutch’ from its name
[trouw.nl] – Ook in Engeland wacht Shell klimaatbeleid en een energietransitie
[wikipedia.org] – Royal Dutch Shell
[follow-this.org] – Green shareholders change the world
[gasunie.nl] – Grootste groene waterstofproject van Europa start in Groningen