In the Financial Times, Nick Butler comments on Shell's move into providing electricity to UK industrial and commercial clients, flagging this as a transition that oil and gas majors have long resisted, with Shell first to jump. The sales, beginning in Britain in 2018, will only be a tiny component of Shell's energy proposition for the foreseeable future.
Given the recent excitement in response to policy statements across Europe (think battery storage, banning of diesel and petrol, electrification of mobility, etc), perhaps the oil & gas giant does see the writing on the wall after all? How long will it take for others to follow?
On another level, the recent political furore over British Gas price hikes and the resultant independent inquiry in energy prices, this could also be smart positioning to also enter the retail market sometime in the future.
Nick Butler names three influencing factors: falling gas prices across the world, the low-carbon transition, and potential disruption of the electricity market.