AMSTERDAM - Shell knows the ways to the highest circles as well as the shortcuts through the political swamps. The oil and gas giant operates in 70 countries. Most are not democratic constitutional states. Shell - until recently Royal Dutch Shell - has to deal daily with weak or autocratic governments, corruption, unrest, war and terrorism. How does it navigate through these?
Investigative journalist Marcel Metze followed the company for years. With a team of researchers, he dug into archives, obtained internal documents, and spoke to (former) employees at all levels. The result is a fascinating dive under the bonnet: the political biography of Shell.
Metze shows how the concern moved like a chameleon through the changing geopolitical and social realities over the past 120 years. With support from the superpowers, it reached the top of the international oil industry. During decolonisation, it learned to deal with nationalist regimes and ambitious colonels. Then a storm arose from the environmental and human rights movement, which never subsided. Gradually, Shell built up an extensive repertoire of visible and less visible influencing and fighting techniques.
Will this seasoned and shrewd political player also survive the end of the fossil era? Shell's financial reserves, its technological prowess and political skills will not be lacking. But her relationship with society is prey to deep mutual distrust, as becomes clear in this book, which reads like a secret history of the past century and a half.
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