The energy company Shell wants to process much less climate-damaging crude oil in Germany within a few years. This is what the Anglo-Dutch company announced. According to this, Shell no longer wants to use oil as a raw material at its site in Wesseling am Rhein from 2025. Until now, the company operated one of the largest refineries in Europe south of Cologne. With the exit of Wesseling, Shell’s oil processing capacity in the Rhineland is expected to increase from 17 million to around nine million tonnes per year, including CO₂ emissions. The group wishes to continue to operate the neighboring Cologne-Godorf site in order to be able to continue to sell fuel oil and fuel oil in this country in the future.
On the one hand, Shell is under economic pressure. The more economies want to become climate neutral, the less fossil fuels are needed: electric cars replace gasoline and diesel engines, while electric heat pumps replace oil heating systems. On the other hand, a Dutch court ruled in the spring that Shell must reduce its greenhouse gas emissions more than expected. Investors are pushing the company in the same direction.
Instead of climate-damaging fuels, Shell wants to use more renewable raw materials in the Rhineland, German boss Fabian Ziegler said. For example, the company inaugurated in summer an electrolyser in Wesseling which produces “green” hydrogen from water with a lot of green electricity. This source of energy can help steel mills or chemical factories become independent from climate-damaging resources such as coal or natural gas. Shell is now planning the next largest electrolyser, construction of which is due to start next year. The group is also building a new biofuel plant that will be used in trucks.
So far, Shell has approximately 1,500 direct employees at the refinery site as well as additional staff at its partners. With the end of oil processing, some jobs would likely be lost, according to site boss Marco Richrath, but new factories will also be created. “Mandatory layoffs should be avoided wherever possible.” A final investment decision to convert the refinery is still pending. “We are talking about very large amounts, billions,” says Ziegler, without specifying them in more detail.