11 July 2024

Energy giant Shell said Tuesday that it will stop buying Russian oil and natural gas and shut down its service stations, aviation fuels and other operations in the country amid international pressure for companies to sever ties over the invasion of Ukraine, which has sent over two million people fleeing the war-ravaged country to date.

The company said in a statement that it would withdraw from all Russian hydrocarbons, including crude oil, petroleum products, natural gas and liquefied natural gas, “in a phased manner.”

This Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2016 file photo shows the Shell logo at a petrol station in London. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth, File)

The decision comes as surging oil prices have been rattling global markets and just days after Ukraine’s foreign minister criticized Shell for continuing to buy Russian oil, lashing out at the company for continuing to do business with President Vladimir Putin’s government.

“We are acutely aware that our decision last week to purchase a cargo of Russian crude oil to be refined into products like petrol and diesel — despite being made with security of supplies at the forefront of our thinking — was not the right one and we are sorry,” CEO Ben van Beurden said. “As we have already said, we will commit profits from the limited, remaining amounts of Russian oil we will process to a dedicated fund.”

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said he had been told Shell “discretely” bought the oil Friday and appealed to the public to pressure the company and other international firms to halt such purchases.

“One question to Shell: doesn’t Russian oil smell (like) Ukrainian blood for you?” Kuleba said on Twitter. “I call on all conscious people around the globe to demand multinational companies to cut all business ties with Russia.”

Last week, Shell said it was “shocked by the loss of life in Ukraine” and would end its joint ventures with Gazprom, the massive oil and gas company controlled by the Russian government.

The UN confirmed on Monday it had recorded 406 civilian deaths and 801 injuries as a result of the conflict. More than two million people have fled Ukraine over the past two weeks, said the UN refugee agency UNHCR.

Poland alone has received nearly half of all those fleeing Ukraine, with Tuesday’s figures showing that 1.2 million had crossed into the country in the past 13 days.

Hungary meanwhile has taken in nearly 191,350 people, Slovakia 140,745 and Russia itself has seen 99,300 people cross over from Ukraine, the data showed.

Moldova and Romania had each received over 82,000 refugees each, according to data gathered on Sunday, while over 210,000 people who have fled into neighbouring countries have already moved on to other European nations, UNHCR found.

AP, AFP