Strategic themes

Cash engines: today

We consider conventional oil and gas, Integrated Gas, oil sands mining and Oil Products as cash engines. The vast majority of our productive capital is employed here and so we expect these to deliver strong and competitive returns.

We will find ways of driving greater returns from these businesses. At the same time, we need to make sure that these businesses are resilient and maintain their running room.

We measure this by their return on capital employed over the cycle and the cash surplus delivered. This cash surplus will fund distributions to shareholders and debt holders as well as fund investments in our growth priorities.

We continue to invest in selective growth opportunities in these areas.

Oil and gas rig (icon)Oil and gas rig (icon)

Conventional oil and gas

Our conventional oil and gas business has strong cash flow and returns potential, typically in mature hydrocarbon provinces. We only make investments in selective growth positions and apply our distinctive technology and operating performance to extend the productive lives of our assets and to enhance their profitability.

LNG vessel (icon)LNG vessel (icon)

Integrated gas

In Integrated Gas, covering LNG worldwide and in GTL in Qatar and Malaysia, we have leadership positions in profitable and growing markets. We are making selective investments in new LNG capacity, and continuing to develop new markets for gas.

Oil sands truck (icon)Oil sands truck (icon)

Oil sands mining

An integrated business with both mining and upgrading. It is highly oil price sensitive with a cash operating cost of around $31 per barrel in 2015. We expect oil sands mining to provide multidecade and steady cash generation and significant oil price upside exposure.

Petrol pump (icon)Petrol pump (icon)

Oil products

Our Oil Products businesses are strongly cash-generative with high returns. Our distinctive product offering is underpinned by a strong manufacturing base, and offers growth potential in selective markets.

Growth Priorities: 2016+

Deep-water oil and gas and Chemicals are Shell’s growth priorities. They are our future cash engines, with expected improved returns and cash flow from around 2020 as growth investment flows through into production.

We are investing only in those projects that are intrinsically advantaged; in projects with better fundamentals than those of our competitors in this sector. Both of these have significant growth potential because of the inventory of projects we hold, or because of global demand growth.

We will assess these businesses by their and free cash flow trajectory.

Deep-water drilling rig (icon)Deep-water drilling rig (icon)

Deep water

In deep water, we have leading positions in the Gulf of Mexico, Brazil, Nigeria and Malaysia. Our deep-water operations have significant growth potential from our large undeveloped resource base, and deployment of our technology and capabilities.

Test tube (icon)Test tube (icon)


Our Chemicals strategy is based on investment at existing sites to increase capacity, improve efficiency and integration, and to strengthen our feedstock sources. Securing new integrated growth projects and developing technologies to convert gas to chemicals are also critical strategy components.

Future opportunities: 2020+

We see shale oil and gas and new energies as our future opportunities. These are themes that could have a material upside for Shell shareholders and should have a pathway to profitability that should attract material growth in spending in the future. Today, our investments in these themes are relatively low, as we focus on our current positions and potential opportunities.

On-shore drilling rig (icon)On-shore drilling rig (icon)


Our shales positions are in North America and Argentina. These plays are centered in the Marcellus in north-east USA, the Permian Basin in Texas, and Alberta & British Columbia in Canada.

Shining sun as on/off-switch (icon)Shining sun as on/off-switch (icon)

New energies

Our new energies business is actively exploring opportunities where the commercial value is clear. We intend to continue to invest in new opportunities at scale in the future.

return on average capital employed
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