Shell oil under fire for purchasing Russian oil at discount after vowing to cut ties with Moscow

by mcardinal

Chris Lange, FISM News


At a time when the international energy industry has been praised for self-sanctioning Russian oil to protest Moscow’s unprovoked and brutal war on Ukraine, Shell PLC is defending its recent purchase of 100,000 metric tons of discounted Urals crude after previously announcing that it was cutting ties with Russian energy giant Gazprom PJSC.  The London-based oil major made the purchase from Trafigura Group Pte. Ltd., one of the largest commodity traders and biggest exporters of Russian oil. Unable to unload a major cargo shipment last week, Trafigura received a bid from Shell after slashing its price. 

News of the purchase prompted a flood of condemnation on social media, with some posts featuring Shell’s iconic scallop-shell logo refashioned to look like an extended middle finger. 


A person familiar with the company’s trading strategy told the Wall Street Journal that Shell has continued purchasing Russian oil for its refiners and petrochemical plants while searching for alternative sources. 

Responding to heavy backlash for the purchase, Shell issued a statement late Saturday saying that it had been in “intense talks with governments and continue to follow their guidance around this issue of security of supply,” adding that the company is “acutely aware we have to navigate this dilemma with the utmost care.”

“We didn’t take this decision lightly, and we understand the strength of feeling around it,” the statement read.

The U.S. and European allies continue to stop short of adding Russian oil embargoes to their growing list of sanctions on Moscow, despite growing calls to stop the flow of money funding the Kremlin’s bloody military campaign, now entering its third week, including from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Meanwhile, companies have sought to distance themselves from Russia.

Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, who has urged the international business community to sever all ties with Moscow, did not hold back in condemning Shell for its bargain-bin betrayal.

“One question to Shell: doesn’t Russian oil smell Ukrainian blood for you?” Kuleba lashed out in a tweet Saturday.

Speaking to CNBC Monday, Kuleba issued a scathing rebuke to firms who continue to do business with Moscow. 

“The world will judge them accordingly. And history will judge them accordingly,” he said.

Shell rival BP last week announced its decision to offload its 19.75% stake in Russian-controlled oil company Rosneft, despite the fact that doing so will likely result in a $25 billion charge.  

Meanwhile, Shell says it will donate profits from Russian oil it purchases to a dedicated relief fund for Ukrainian citizens, with input from aid agencies, according to Reuters. The company further welcomed “any direction or insights” from governments or policymakers.

“We will continue to choose alternatives to Russian oil wherever possible, but this cannot happen overnight because of how significant Russia is to global supply,” the company said in the statement.