File picture: Denis Balibouse / Reuters.

London - Even oil tycoons aren’t immune to the frenzy over polluting cars - and the boss of Shell has succumbed.

Ben van Beurden has admitted that he would buy an electric vehicle, as the Anglo-Dutch giant said it was investing up to on billion pounds (R17bn) a year on renewables. He also predicted oil demand could peak within the next 15 to 20 years.

Meanwhile, Shell is forging ahead in sectors such as wind, solar and major projects on biofuels in Brazil. It is working with others to put 400 hydrogen fuel stations across Europe, and has been collaborating with UK Power Networks to improve the grid for electric car power supply.

Asked if he planned to buy new energy companies, van Beurden, 59, said: "The next buy I do is my next car which will be an electric vehicle."

File picture: Sergei Karpukhin / Reuters.

Shell smashed financial expectations with profits for the second quarter tripling to £2.75bn, driven by refining and chemicals divisions. With the oil-producing cartel Opec still trying to push up its price, hovering at around $50 a barrel, van Beurden said the company could survive with oil at $40 a barrel.

The Dutchman updated the markets as the UK said it would ban diesel and petrol cars from roads by 2040.

He predicted demand for traditional fuels for aviation and shipping would grow, while less advanced economies would switch more slowly to electric. 

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