Shell CEO says EV charging stations in China are hot, predicts ‘robust’ oil and gas demand

In this aerial view, cars line up to refuel before the price rises at a Shell gas station in Wuhan, the capital of the Hubei province in China, June 14, 2022.

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British energy giant Shell is boosting its oil and gas production to book profits in the near term. It’s also building out electric vehicle charging stations across Asia.

Shell CEO Wael Sawan doesn’t know where oil and gas demand is going to be in 10 to 15 years, he told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Wednesday. “To be honest, anyone who knows that will be making a lot of money at the moment. The reality is, we don’t know,” Sawan told CNBC.

But in the short and medium term, Shell sees “very robust” demand for oil and gas, Sawan told CNBC. “And we have been very clear, we will be committed to our oil and gas businesses for a long time to come,” Sawan added.

Also, Shell will invest $10 billion to $15 billion between 2023 and 2025 on low-carbon energy technologies, including biofuels, hydrogen, electric vehicle charging and carbon capture. Shell earned more than $42 billion in profit in 2022.

One area Shell is “leaning further heavily into” is building charging stations for electric vehicles, especially in Asia, Sawan said.

“We have today, 46,000 retail sites around the world,” Sawan said. “There’s a lot of adjacencies because you can then just put chargers in the same locations where you are selling to internal combustion engines.”

In China, specifically, there is a “significant penetration” of electric vehicles, Sawan told CNBC.

“Actually, in China, we’re seeing our EV charging customers come in twice as much as our internal combustion engine customers coming in.”

Indeed, sales of EVs in China reached 3.3 million in 2021, which is three times the number of EVs sold in 2020, according to data from the International Energy Agency. Europe is the next-largest EV market, according to the IEA.

The public charging infrastructure is especially in high demand in China because of the country’s increasing preference for EVs. In addition, many of the residents of China, and other Asian countries as well, who are buying EVs, live in high-rise buildings, not homes where it is possible to have a personal charging setup, Sawan said.

The second area of low-carbon investment for Shell is biofuels, which are made from organic and waste materials and then are mixed with gasoline. Demand for biofuels is being driven by regulatory pressures in multiple parts of the world, Sawan told CNBC.

Shell CEO Wael Sawan on production plans: Focus less on volume, more on value

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