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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.

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Jan 28, 2021 - Energy & Environment

GM plans to end sales of gasoline powered cars by 2035

GM CEO Mary Barra at the GM Orion Assembly Plant plant for electric and self-driving vehicles in Michigan. Photo: Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

General Motors is setting a worldwide target to end sales of gasoline and diesel powered cars, pickups and SUVs by 2035, the automaker said Thursday.

Why it matters: GM's plan marks one of the auto industry's most aggressive steps to transform their portfolio to electric models that currently represent a tiny fraction of overall sales.

Alabama trying to use COVID relief funds to expand prisons

Inside the Julia Tutwiler Correctional Facility in Wetumpka, Alabama in 2018. Photo: Paul Zimmerman/Getty Images

Alabama state lawmakers are trying to funnel up to $400 million of the state's American Rescue Plan funds to pay for a $1.3 billion plan to build and renovate prisons across the state, the Associated Press reports.

Why it matters: Diverting dollars from the COVID-relief package, passed in March, is prompting criticism over misuse.

48 mins ago - World

Jake Sullivan discussed human rights and Yemen with Saudi crown prince

MBS in 2018. Photo: Fayez Nureldine/AFP via Getty

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman discussed efforts to end the war in Yemen, the de-escalation of regional tensions with Iran, and Saudi Arabia's human rights record in their meeting on Monday, a senior U.S. official told Axios.

Why it matters: This was Sullivan's first trip to the Middle East since taking up his post in January, and he was the most senior visitor to the kingdom so far from the Biden administration, which has kept the crown prince at arm's length over his roles in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi and the war in Yemen.

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