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Climate risk management

Shell’s processes for identifying and assessing climate-related risks

Identifying climate-related risks

As discussed in “Energy transition strategy”, Shell considers climate change and GHG emissions, referred to as “Rising concerns about climate change and effects of energy transition”, as a material risk factor. We monitor the risk related to climate change and GHG emissions across four components:

  • commercial risks;
  • regulatory risks;
  • societal risks (including litigation risk); and
  • physical risks.

These components are monitored and assessed on an integrated basis, necessitated by the interdependence of the risks and the related actions. The different components pose different kinds of exposures spanning different time horizons. Similarly, the risk responses for the different components of the risk are also planned by taking a holistic view.

For example, the increasing cost of complying with emission limits in some regions is a regulatory risk that may require operational responses in the near term. The reduction in demand for legacy hydrocarbons is a commercial risk that is likely to have a medium- to long-term impact, demanding changes to our strategic portfolio and business models. The risk of physical impacts of climate change is likely to occur in the medium and long term and would require actions to mitigate adverse impacts to our assets and supply chain. As an example, the transformation of our refineries into energy and chemicals parks mitigates our operational emissions exposure risk, medium- to long-term commercial risks and allows us to plan for other future adaptation measures. This highlights our integrated approach to risk management.

These integrated assessments and the resulting changes in our strategy ensure we manage our aggregate climate change risk within our overall risk appetite over different time horizons.

Shell’s processes for identifying and assessing risks are part of our Shell Control Framework.

Our risk management procedures that help us identify climate-related risks and opportunities include:

  • monitoring external developments, such as the announcements made at COP26 in November 2021;
  • evaluating the status of risk indicators, which illustrate how well we are managing each component of the risk related to climate change and GHG emissions; and
  • learning from incidents and assurance review findings.

We use these procedures to identify risks relating to climate change and GHG emissions, which in turn enables us to determine their significance, both individually and relative to other risks.

Assessing climate-related risks

Processes within the Shell Control Framework that help us assess each identified risk include the evaluation of its impact, likelihood and the level of risk we are willing to accept.

When assessing the likelihood of a risk occurring, we consider factors such as our ability to prevent the risk happening, and whether the risk has materialised in the past.

When assessing the potential impact of a risk, we consider the financial consequences and how it might affect more qualitative aspects, such as our reputation, our ability to comply with regulations, and possible damage to health, safety, our assets and the environment. The impact and hence, materiality of a risk is based on how critical it could be to our business model.

As Shell has operations both onshore and offshore, the potential physical impacts of climate change are also important for us to manage. In this respect, we consider the physical risks to our assets and facilities to ensure they can operate and be accessed safely under extreme weather conditions The physical risks are assessed at an asset level. Metocean (meteorology and oceanography) engineering experts assess and monitor the physical risks and logistical activities for certain of our assets. These studies aim to ensure our operations are safe and that our facilities can be accessed safely under extreme conditions.

As we operate in multiple countries globally, societal risks are material as they are directly linked to our licence to operate in these countries.

The impact and likelihood assessment helps us to prioritise risks and determine their relative materiality, based on a comprehensive picture of all significant risks in the context of the objectives of the relevant business.

To support our risk assessments, we also seek to establish our risk appetite, which is the level of risk that we are willing to accept in pursuit of Shell’s strategy and objectives. We consider the amount of resources – such as financial resources, people, processes, systems and controls – that we are willing and able to allocate to manage each risk in pursuit of our objectives. We also consider the impact to Shell’s overall risk profile, such as the change in our overall risks and returns as we develop our Renewables and Energy Solutions businesses and pivot away from our Upstream business.

The impact and likelihood assessment, combined with risk appetite, determines the type of risk responses, such as controls and assurance activities, that may be required to manage each risk.

Possible responses include:

  • accepting the risk without any further action;
  • mitigating or reducing the risk with appropriate controls, supported by assurance activities;
  • transferring the risk, for example to insurance providers where appropriate; and
  • altogether stopping or forgoing the activity that gives rise to the risk.

In determining our risk responses, we always seek to comply with our Code of Conduct and other boundaries, such as our financial framework, which set the aggregate level of risk appetite that could be sustained. The financial framework considers boundaries such as net debt levels and our credit rating.

We note that the majority of our emissions are our Scope 3 customer emissions which are outside of our direct control. In recognition of this, we have put customers at the centre of our Powering Progress strategy, partnering with others to reduce carbon emissions, sector-by-sector.

Classifications of risks

We identify and assess risks across the Group in terms of three distinct categories:

  • strategic risks: we consider current and future portfolio issues, examining parameters such as country concentration or exposure to higher-risk countries. We also consider long-range developments in order to test key assumptions or beliefs in relation to energy markets.
  • operational risks: we consider material operational exposures across Shell’s entire value chain which provides a more granular assessment of key risks that the organisation is facing.
  • conduct and culture risks: we consider alignment of our policies, practices and behaviours against our purpose and core values.

The four sub-components of risk related to climate change and GHG emissions – commercial, regulatory, societal including litigation, and physical risk – are assessed using the above categories to ensure that we maintain strategic resilience, have robust day-to-day operational risk responses and that responses align with Shell’s purpose and core values.

Shell’s processes for managing climate-related risks

Our climate-related risk management process is carried out at Group level, at business, function and asset level which includes projects.

We apply the Shell Control Framework to ensure that we effectively manage our climate-related risks at all these levels. The framework includes:

  • mandatory risk standards and manuals;
  • project-level risk management processes;
  • management and Board review;
  • internal audits and investigations; and
  • annual attestation processes.

Mandatory risk standards and manuals

We have mandatory standards and manuals which establish the requirements on how to effectively manage material risks including the operation of appropriate controls. Our standards and manuals also provide guidance on how to monitor, communicate and report changes in the risk environment. These documents aim to:

  • ensure consistent management and assessment of climate risk across Shell;
  • clarify expectations for risk management and reporting, including roles and responsibilities of the risk owners;
  • clarify types of assurance activities that may be applicable;
  • strengthen decision-making by ensuring that businesses have better awareness and understanding of climate risks (including their likelihood and potential impact) and mitigation plans; and
  • enable integration of Shell’s reporting.

We periodically review and, if necessary, update our standards and manuals in light of developments in risks associated with climate change. Our approach continues to evolve as we increase our understanding of changing policies and the differing pace of energy transition in different regions.

Project-level risk management processes

At a project level, assessing climate-related risks is an important part of making initial investment decisions. To support project-level risk management, projects of a certain size or which carry unusual risks are required to follow Shell’s Opportunity Realisation Standard, which sets out the rules for managing and delivering opportunities in the organisation. Each project is assisted by experts from our global subject matter groups during their development, implementation and operation.

Projects under development that are expected to have a material greenhouse gas impact must meet our internal carbon performance standards or industry benchmarks. This indicates that they will be able to compete and prosper in a future where society aims to limit overall carbon emissions.

Our performance standards are used for measuring a project’s average lifetime GHG-intensity or energy efficiency per asset type. Applying these criteria ensures that our projects can compete and prosper in the energy transition. An exception process is in place to manage specific incidental cases. The reporting year 2021 was the first full year of implementation of performance standards across our Upstream and Transition pillars. The performance standards for the Growth businesses are under development.

The performance standards are approved by the Executive Vice President accountable for implementation in the relevant businesses, and by the Executive Vice President Safety, Environment and Asset Management.

Projects with a material greenhouse gas footprint that meet the performance standards or industry benchmarks will often set more ambitious emissions targets for themselves that then are approved by the Executive Vice President Safety, Environment and Asset Management at certain defined stages. The respective project’s GHG abatement plan helps to determine the nature of these targets, and we assess the effects of a project’s emissions alongside economic and technical design factors.

We estimate the future GHG emissions of projects in two ways. We apply the performance standards, and we consider the GHG emissions from the use of the products that are to be manufactured. These assessments can lead to projects being stopped or designs being changed.

We expect the performance standards to evolve as our portfolio changes in the energy transition.

Management and Board reviews

Management and the Board perform regular reviews of the risk of climate change and GHG emissions to ensure awareness of emerging issues that impact our strategy and to ensure the effectiveness of our responses in managing this risk at a more granular, operational level. For example, as part of the annual strategic planning cycle, the Executive Committee and the Board assess how climate and GHG emissions may affect the pace of the energy transition and the long-term implications for Shell’s current portfolio.

In addition, at an operational level, each business and function regularly reviews its risk profile, risk responses and assurance activities throughout the year to ensure climate-related risks are managed effectively. These insights are used to provide the Executive Committee and Board with an update twice a year on the operational management of climate change and GHG emissions risks. During these updates, the Executive Committee and Board consider the significance of the climate change and GHG emissions risks relative to other risks on the Group risk profile and review whether our risk responses are effective in addressing the four sub-components of the climate change and GHG emissions risk. Where necessary, Board reviews are further supplemented by additional in-depth reviews with the relevant management teams.

Our management reviews help us to update Shell’s forward-looking plans and guide our day-to-day operational decisions such as maintenance schedules and our risk response plans.

Internal audits and investigations processes

Shell’s Internal Audit and Investigations (SIAI) team provides independent and objective assurance and advises management and the Board on the adequacy and effectiveness of our risk management and internal controls.

For example, in relation to our climate ambitions, SIAI conducted four GHG audits during 2021 to test whether controls are adequately designed and operating effectively to mitigate the identified risks. The controls tested covered GHG emissions measurement and reporting, abatement projects and GHG forecasts. In addition, a SIAI-led Shell Energy audit focused on the reported gas and electricity volumes used for net carbon intensity calculations and reporting.

Annual attestation processes

On an annual basis, each business director is required to provide an annual attestation of their business’ compliance with our Health, Safety, Security, Environment and Social Performance (HSSE & SP) Control Framework and to report this to Shell’s CEO. This includes the assessment of the effectiveness of the internal controls in managing climate-related risks.

Project-level risk management in action

During project development stages, we consider ways to reduce GHG emissions and whether to include them in the design. Measures considered and adopted in 2021 included:

  • flaring reduction:
    • Gbaran asset, Nigeria: improvement project including flare reduction and improved efficiency of power system;
  • CCS capabilities;
  • exclusion of high-intensity process equipment;
  • using renewable energy; and
  • electrification:
    • Timi, Malaysia: financial investment decision (FID) taken on fully electrified wellhead platform for gas production;
    • Linnorm, Norway: plan evolves full electrification of a gas production platform; currently past conceptual design phase and expected to take FID in 2022; and
    • F6 Vlap, Malaysia: conceptual planning completed, aimed at implementing an extension of existing platform with improved power production to reduce GHG intensity. The FID is expected in 2022.

We also include considerations of potential physical climate change risks in the internal Design and Engineering Practice (DEP) requirements for new projects.

Physical risk management in action

In addition to the steps we are taking to manage climate-related risks and opportunities, we are also adapting to the changing physical risk environment. An example is:

Port Fourchon Junction, USA, (comprising two Shell-operated ventures, with Shell interest of 75% in the Amberjack Pipeline Company and 71% in Mars Oil Pipeline Company).

The Port Fourchon Junction facilities are located in the Mississippi Delta, one of the world’s most vulnerable low-elevation coastal zones. These facilities are highly exposed to storm surge and wave-induced inundation under hurricanes which regularly visit the Gulf of Mexico. Another important factor is that the area experiences one of the largest rates of subsidence in the world, which, combined with sea level rise, could increase the site vulnerability in the coming decades. In 2021, Shell assessed the present and future scenarios of subsidence and sea level rise under extreme metocean conditions induced by hurricanes and their impact on Port Fourchon Junction. This led to a new project involving infrastructure changes. In 2021, it was developed past the conceptual design phase and is expected to take FID in 2022. The scope should allow for continued safe operations and accessibility to the location under different extreme circumstances which involves relocation of assets and raising all equipment as per metocean experts’ recommendations.

Integration of the climate-related risk management process into Shell’s overall risk management

As described above, our climate-related risk management process follows the approach set out by the Shell Control Framework, ensuring that it is integrated in the overall risk management processes of the Group.

Climate-related risks are considered from a strategic and operational perspective to ensure we maintain a comprehensive view of the different types of climate risks we face and the different time horizons in which they may affect us.

The monitoring and review of risks is a key risk management process in Shell. The Executive Committee and the Board regularly review climate-related risks against the Group’s operational and strategic risk profile. This allows management to take a holistic view and to optimise risk mitigation responses, to ensure that climate-related risk responses are properly integrated into the relevant businesses’ and functions’ activities.

carbon capture and storage
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final investment decision
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greenhouse gas
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health, safety, security and environment
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