Strategy & Management

Expert Statement: Samia Nehme, Shell Chemicals

CO2-Neutral Chemical Industry - The Challenge of an Industry Transformation

10.03.2021 - The European Chemical Industry has set out on an ambitious path to become carbon neutral.

Germany, as one of the major chemical manufacturing nations, has committed to achieve this goal by 2050. But companies need to translate this industry vision into their specific context.
System changes of the scale of CO2 neutrality for a whole industry sector require a new mindset. Major transformations command long lead times and require consistent and persistent follow-through. It is all but clear whether enough value is created to justify the huge investments and how new value generated is distributed among critical players and investors.

CHEManager asked executives and industry experts to share their opinions on this industry transformation, which is a multi-stakeholder challenge and comprises economical, technical, societal and political aspects. We proposed to discuss the following aspects:

  • What is your strategy / timeline to become carbon neutral and what are the key challenges on the path to achieve this goal?
  • What political / regulatory mea­sures are needed to encourage companies to invest in carbon neu­tral technologies?
  • What economical / societal benefits do you expect or hope for by decarbonizing your business?
  • How do you plan to involve external stakeholders critical for achieving CO2 neutrality?


Samia Nehme: Our ambition at Shell is to become a net-zero emissions energy business by 2050 or sooner in step with society and our customers, and our chemicals business has a vital part to play. We aim to be net-zero emis­sions from making our products and to reduce the carbon intensity of the prod­ucts we sell. We will also work with sectors which use energy to help them find their own path to net-zero emissions.
We are looking at four main areas to drive down CO2 from our chemicals production: Firstly, each of our chemical plants is improv­ing energy efficiency, through investing in things like heat and gas recovery systems, hybrid boilers and new catalysts. Secondly, our production sites are increasingly using low­er-carbon energy sources such as solar and hydrogen, which Shell’s New Energies business is playing a leading role in developing. Thirdly, we are exploring carbon capture and storage (CCS) options, to capture the CO2 emissions our facilities produce. And lastly, we are developing alternative feedstocks for making our chemicals, such as biomass and plastic waste.
Plastic end products bring important benefits to society - helping to improve living standards, hygiene, and nutrition. Shell, like others, wants to be part of the solution to the growing problem of plastic waste. We are developing new technology to use plastic waste as an alternative feedstock to make our chemicals. We are making good progress toward our ambition to use 1 million tons of plastic waste every year in our facilities by 2025. At Shell Chemicals, driving the plastic circular economy is a key part of our growth strategy.