Internal Shell email refers to Danish refinery as "a piece of crap"

A communication worker of the British oil giant sent a strongly worded email concerning the refinery in Fredericia, which the company had divested shortly before. The refinery was ”a trend-setter” at Shell, responds the new owner.

Photo: SHELL

”We finally unloaded that piece of crap in Denmark we’ve been trying to sell for decades.”

This unflattering description of a Danish oil refinery in the city of Fredericia appeared in an email dated May 2021 and sent by Steve Lesher, part of the communication team in the company’s US division, to a lobbyist in California.

The news is reported by US magazine New Republic on the basis of emails publicized by House Committee on Oversight and Reform under the House of Representatives as part of an investigation into potential greenwashing in the industry.

In the same email, the Shell communication worker calls the refinery facilities ”crappy”.

In January 2021, it emerged that Shell had signed an agreement to sell the refinery to US investment fund Postlane Partners. The fund has formed Crossbridge Energy to oversee operations at the refinery.

We certainly don’t view ourselves as ”a piece of crap”. Among other things, we have for many years been among most energy-efficient refineries in the world.

Torben Øllegaard Sørensen, pressechef, Crossbridge Energy

”Not us dragging down the average”

Torben Øllegaard Sørensen serves as public relations officer at the refinery. When EnergyWatch contacts him Wednesday afternoon, he reports to ”somewhat surprised” about the statement.

”We certainly don’t view ourselves as ”a piece of crap”. Among other things, we have for many years been among most energy-efficient refineries in the world. This is something you attain through focused and dedicated efforts. In many ways, we were a trendsetter internally in Shell, so that’s just one example,” he says.

He points to the refinery’s work towards using excess heat for districting heating purposes as well as the strong interest in hydrogen in the local area, for which he believes the refinery deserves credit.

”When we were part of Shell, we were included in the overall pool for maintenance and investment budget, and it certainly wasn’t us dragging the average down when you look at value for money,” adds Sørensen – without mentioning specifics.

EnergyWatch has reached out to Shell for a comment on the statements.

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