Nov 6, 2020 - Energy & Environment

Shell's revealing Louisiana refinery closure

A illustration of barrels of oil.
Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Shell is closing down its refinery in Convent, Louisiana, after failing to find a buyer for the plant that processes over 200,000 barrels of oil per day, the company said Thursday.

Why it matters: Most signs of Big Oil's climate plans have involved acquisitions and venture deals around renewables, batteries and other tech, but this move shows how the plans will also involve shedding assets in various parts of their business.

  • Shell said the move is partly a result of its long-term plans to transition its portfolio to lower-carbon sources as it aims for "net-zero" emissions by 2050.
  • Shell cited its strategy to invest in a "core set of uniquely integrated manufacturing sites that are also strategically positioned for the transition to a low-carbon future."

Yes, but: All that said I don't want to overstate the climate angle in what's mostly a market story as the industry grapples with COVID-19.

  • "Refineries have come under increasing financial pressure worldwide, as fuel demand has dropped during the coronavirus pandemic," the Houston Chronicle notes.
  • Per Reuters, it's the ninth North American refinery slated for shutdown or idling since the pandemic began.

What's next: The shutdown process at the plant, which employs 675 people, will begin later this month, Shell said.

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