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Liquidity and capital resources

We manage our businesses to deliver strong cash flows to fund investment for profitable growth. Management’s priorities for applying Shell’s cash are base capital expenditure to sustain our strategy, progressive dividend growth of around 4% annually, AA credit metrics through the cycle, and additional shareholder distributions (20-30% of cash flow from operations). The fourth priority is disciplined and measured capital expenditure growth and continued balance sheet strengthening.

Financial condition and liquidity

Shell generated cash flow from operations of $45.1 billion, including a negative impact from working capital of $10.4 billion, and free cash flow of $40.3 billion in 2021, aided by the improving global macro environment and divestments. (For more information on free cash flow see “Non-GAAP measures reconciliations”) Net debt decreased to $52.6 billion at December 31, 2021, (December 31, 2020: $75.4 billion). Gearing fell to 23.1% at December 31, 2021, compared with 32.2% at December 31, 2020, as increases in equity and cash flow generation reduced net debt. Note 15 to the “Consolidated Financial Statements” provides information on our debt arrangements, including net debt and gearing definitions.


We satisfy our funding and working capital requirements from the cash generated from our operations, the issuance of debt and divestments. In 2021, access to the international debt capital markets remained strong, with our debt principally financed from these markets through central debt programmes consisting of:

  • a $10 billion global commercial paper (CP) programme, with maturities not exceeding 270 days;
  • a $10 billion US CP programme, with maturities not exceeding 397 days;
  • an unlimited Euro medium-term note (EMTN) programme (also referred to as the Multi-Currency Debt Securities Programme); and
  • an unlimited US universal shelf (US shelf) registration.

All these CP, EMTN and US shelf issuances are issued by Shell International Finance B.V., the issuance company for Shell, with its debt being guaranteed by Shell plc (the Company).

We also maintain committed credit facilities. The core facilities were extended in December 2021. Of the $10 billion total facility, $0.08 billion matured in 2021, $1.92 billion matures in 2022, $0.32 billion in 2025 and $7.68 billion in 2026. This remained fully undrawn at December 31, 2021. These core facilities and internally available liquidity provide back-up coverage for our CP programmes. In April 2020, to increase liquidity amid COVID-19-related uncertainties, Shell entered into a dual-currency $7.2 billion and €4.4 billion one-year revolving credit facility, with two six-month extension options at our discretion. This facility remained undrawn and expired at the end of the first year in April 2021. Other than certain borrowing by local subsidiaries, we do not have any other committed credit facilities.

Our total debt decreased by $18.9 billion to $89.1 billion at December 31, 2021. The total debt excluding leases matures as follows: 7% in 2022; 6% in 2023; 7% in 2024; 10% in 2025; and 69% in 2026 and beyond. The portion of debt maturing in 2022 is expected to be repaid from a combination of cash balances, cash generated from operations, divestments and the issuance of new debt.

In 2021, we issued $1.5 billion of bonds under our US shelf registration. All CP outstanding was repaid within the year with no additional issuance. Additionally in 2021, we redeemed $4.5 billion of USD bonds, bringing forward maturities of certain bonds maturing before the end of 2025. We believe our working capital is sufficient for current requirements.

While our subsidiaries are subject to restrictions, such as foreign withholding taxes on the transfer of funds in the form of cash dividends, loans or advances, such restrictions are not expected to have a material impact on our ability to meet our cash obligations.

Market risk and credit risk

We are affected by the global macroeconomic environment as well as financial and commodity market conditions. This exposes us to treasury and trading risks, including liquidity risk, market risk (interest rate risk, foreign exchange risk and commodity price risk) and credit risk. See “Risk factors” and Note 20 to the “Consolidated Financial Statements”. The size and scope of our businesses require a robust financial control framework and effective management of our various risk exposures.

We use various financial instruments for managing exposure to commodity price, foreign exchange and interest rate movements. Our treasury and trading operations are highly centralised and seek to manage credit exposures associated with our substantial cash, commodity, foreign exchange and interest rate positions. Our portfolio of cash investments is diversified to avoid concentrating risk in any one instrument, country or counterparty. The use of external derivative instruments is confined to specialist trading and central treasury organisations that have appropriate skills, experience, supervision, control and reporting systems. Credit risk policies are in place to ensure that sales of products are made to customers with appropriate creditworthiness, and include credit analysis and monitoring of customers against counterparty credit limits. Where appropriate, netting arrangements, credit insurance, prepayments and collateral are used to manage credit risk. Management believes it has access to sufficient debt funding sources (capital markets) and to undrawn committed borrowing facilities to meet foreseeable requirements.

Pension commitments

We have substantial pension commitments, the funding of which is subject to capital market risks (see “Risk factors”). We address key pension risks in a number of ways. Principal among these is the Pensions Forum, chaired by the Chief Financial Officer, which oversees Shell’s input to pension strategy, policy and operation. A risk committee supports the forum in reviewing the results of assurance processes in respect of pensions risks. In general, local trustees manage the funded defined benefit pension plans, with contributions paid based on independent actuarial valuations in accordance with local regulations. Our total employer contributions were $0.9 billion in 2021 and are estimated to be $0.9 billion in 2022. See Note 18 to the “Consolidated Financial Statements”.

Capitalisation table



$ million


December 31, 2021

December 31, 2020

Equity attributable to Shell plc shareholders



Current debt



Non-current debt



Total debt [A]



Total capitalisation




Of total debt, $61.5 billion (2020: $79.4 billion) was unsecured and $27.6 billion (2020: $28.6 billion) was secured. See Note 15 to the “Consolidated Financial Statements” for further disclosure on debt.

Euro medium-term note
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