Shell SWOT Analysis

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Royal Dutch / Shell Global SWOT Analysis

Strengths

  • Shell’s current investments in exploration will help ensure continued activity over coming decades.
  • Research into biofuels, solar power, wind power and energy from hydrogen helps the organisation diversify in a market where ecological issues are of increasing concern, and also addresses issues of the longevity of fossil fuel reserves.
  • Diversification into products such as fuel cards and credit cards helps Shell maintain a wider portfolio of products, spreading risk.
  • Shell pioneered the use of scenarios, a planning tool where a range of possible future situations are explored and strategy adapted to ensure future demands can be met.
  • The organisation has worked hard to improve its general reputation and believes it is now seen more positively than it used to be.
  • Shell has utilised opportunities to develop strategic partnerships, for example, supplying CO2, which is a by-product of its refinery process, to Dutch tomato farmers who had previously used heaters (higher CO2 concentration in greenhouses accelerates tomato growth).

Weaknesses

  • Shell’s strong focus on oil and gas requires it to search continually for replacement supplies, and exploration is a high-cost element of its operations.
  • Shell still uses the technique of flaring and burning gas from oil extracting sites as a way of dealing with unwanted by-products of its operations: this is considered to be environmentally unacceptable by many.
  • Shell has a strong presence in Nigeria, but this area is politically volatile and operations have been fraught with security problems for staff and attacks on production. The company may be forced to withdraw, compromising its network of resources and threatening its ability to meet production obligations.
  • The company is reported to be reviewing involvement with a windpower development near Blackpool, raising questions regarding its commitment to alternative energy sources.

Opportunities

  • New oil and gas reserves are still being found, and there is the potential to discover more.
  • Shell has been able to move into areas rich in reserves which were previously too risky to operate in, for example Iraq.
  • Shell’s active response to criticisms of environmentally unfriendly activities may lead to less antagonistic relationships with environmental groups.
  • Emerging economies have a large and growing demand for fossil fuels.
  • Diversification into new products and alternative fuels may open up new markets.

Threats

  • Fuel prices in recent months have been particularly volatile, initially rising quickly but subsequently falling sharply, reducing potential profit
  • Political issues in some regions, Nigeria in particular, threaten operations. A court order has demanded Shell hand over a site on the Niger Delta to local ownership.
  • Summer 2008 saw strikes by tanker drivers working for Hoyer, suppliers of Shell, resulting in negative publicity, criticism of Shell’s high profits and a supply problem for Shell forecourts.
  • The economic downturn has led to a decrease in demand for fossil fuels, possibly aggravated by changes in driving habits in response to high fuel prices earlier in 2008.
  • Weather can have significant effects on production, with refineries particularly hit recently by Hurricane Ike.

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