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Fact check: 9,000 Shell layoffs were announced prior to U.S. general election and Biden taking office

Posts circulating on Facebook claim that oil and gas giant Royal Dutch Shell will cut 9,000 jobs because of the Biden administration. Linking the move to Biden is misleading: the company announced plans to cut up to 9,000 positions in Sept. 2020 as part of efforts to shift to low-carbon energy and “simplify the company’s structure”, and the locations of the layoffs were not specified by a spokesperson for Shell, which operates in over 70 countries.

FILE PHOTO: A Shell sign is pictured near Nowshera, Pakistan's northwest Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province September 8, 2010. REUTERS/Morteza Nikoubazl/File Photo

One post shared over 826 times here reads: “Shell oil laying off 9000 workers thanks Biden”.  Other posts can be seen here , and here .

Curtis Smith, a spokesman for Shell, told Reuters via email: “The assertion that Shell is eliminating jobs as a result of moves made by the Biden Administration is inaccurate.” He said the announcement was made in Sept. 2020, when Donald Trump was still president.

“Shell announced up to 9,000 positions would be eliminated as part of a broader effort to reduce costs, simplify the company’s structure and accelerate investments in lower-carbon energy products,” he added.

At the time, Reuters reported on the oil giant’s move  here  . Shell said it expected to cut 7,000-9,000 jobs by the end of 2022, including some 1,500 people who had agreed to take voluntary redundancy in 2020.

In an interview published on Shell’s website on Sept. 30  here   , CEO Ben van Beurden referred to the restructuring by saying, “We have looked closely at how we are organized and we feel that, in many places, we have too many layers in the company.”

As reported by Reuters here , in April 2020 Shell laid out the oil and gas sector’s most extensive strategy yet to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050.

According to their website www.shell.com/about-us.html , the energy company has more than 80,000 employees in more than 70 countries.

When asked, Shell did not specify where the mentioned layoffs would be taking place.

Reuters reported in November 2020 that the company was closing its refinery in Convent, Louisiana, the largest such U.S. facility and first on the U.S. Gulf Coast to shut down since the coronavirus pandemic devastated worldwide demand ( here ).

The refinery is the ninth in North America targeted for a shutdown or to be idled since the onset of the pandemic, which has dealt a heavy blow to fuel demand globally. The United States is the world’s largest fuel consumer.

In January 2021, Reuters reported that U.S. refiners were girding for a painful slate of fourth-quarter earnings, reflecting the pressure of rising crude prices, weak demand due to renewed COVID-19 travel restrictions, and higher costs of associated with blending of renewable fuels into their products ( here ).

VERDICT

False. Shell’s plans to cut up to 9,000 positions were announced prior to the 2020 U.S. election and to Biden taking office.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our work to fact-check social media posts here . 

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