Getting to know David Wells, the new head of Shell Energy Europe
May 8, 2017
David Wells became the head of Shell Energy Europe on 1 May. David is responsible for the marketing and trading of gas and power in Shell’s European energy markets, as well as the Shell Group’s global trade in environmental products.
David joins Shell Energy Europe after leading Shell’s LNG Marketing & Trading business for nearly eleven years. David joined the Shell Group in 1982 after graduating from Cambridge University with a Master of Arts in Mathematics. He has previously held management positions in Shell across the world in various trading roles, along with roles in refineries in France and Thailand.
David will speak at Flame’s Global LNG Summit the morning of Monday 8 May.
What are your priorities as the new head of Shell Energy Europe? Where do you see the business heading?
The business is at an exciting point. The energy transition promises an expanded role for gas (particularly with LNG likely to provide a greater share of Europe’s gas), a growing role for cleaner power and greater customer choice due to deregulation, and growth in emissions trading and management as the green agenda gets stronger. My key priority is to ensure we are well positioned to take advantage of these and other trends in the coming years. To do this we need to stay close to customers and their evolving needs while managing new risks and opportunities in our own business.
What are the biggest opportunities for the gas and power market in Europe?
I see three main opportunities for European energy markets:
- From a supply point of view, Europe could attract more global LNG, thus significantly contributing to CO2 reduction should this LNG replace coal in power generation. More LNG would also alleviate concerns around security of supply.
- The second opportunity for Europe is to increase the penetration of power in different usages, including automotive. Power can be generated by the ideal combination of natural gas and renewables and therefore further contribute to decarbonisation.
- The third opportunity is about energy services. European energy markets are already quite advanced when it comes to the type of products offered to market participants, but I see space for Europe to be on the cutting edge of offering hedging services, solutions combining different commodities and more services to the end users.
Shell Energy Europe is already working to maximise these three opportunities to share the benefits with our partners, customers and counterparties.
What are the biggest threats for the gas and power market in Europe?
We have to be sure we have the right balance when it comes to operating our business in a market that can include uncertainty from changes due to government intervention or market design. We need to ensure the free market still operates in a way that allows us to trade across many borders as transparently as possible.
How do you see renewables fitting into the supply mix in Europe?
It’s clear more and more governments are choosing renewables to help transition to a cleaner environment, and we want to play a role in helping to meet energy demand while reducing emissions at the same time. We see gas as the perfect companion fuel for renewables, and we think the two work well together – primarily in the electricity sector. Renewables will compete in the first instance within the power sector and whilst currently electricity meets less than 20% of the global energy demand, this is expected to increase as the global energy system is looking for low-carbon alternatives. We are exploring opportunities to grow our footprint in Europe’s renewable power market, and we’ve recently agreed to offtake the renewable power generated from offshore wind farms in places such as the UK and here in the Netherlands.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
I am currently busy with transitioning back to the UK after twenty years overseas and it’s quite a culture shock. Otherwise I enjoy travelling, hillwalking, running and cycling.