Interview with Vincent Begon
General Manager at Shell Aviation Lubricants
A prime example of how small components of a much larger supply chain can have a profound impact on the sustainable outcomes of a business. When we think about aviation, we often transition to talks of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) or the up and coming adaptations taking place to enable electric regional flight.
To totally eliminate the impact of the industry is a feat of a generation and the pressure is on to gauge the influence of certain materials, components and substances on the overall success of decarbonisation. Alongside this, there are further environmental aspects: disposal, Scope 3 emissions, and overall wastage.
Nevertheless, Shell is now facing the most significant transformation as it delivers sustainable solutions for its decarbonised transportation offerings. Vincent Begon, General Manager of Shell Aviation Lubricants delves deeper into this in an exclusive interview about the company’s AeroShell brand.
Please tell us about yourself and your role at Shell.
I am General Manager of Shell Aviation Lubricants, with responsibility for our AeroShell lubricants brand. I have been part of the Shell Aviation team for eight years now and have a background in B2B sales, with over 15 years of experience in senior commercial roles across various sectors.
What is Shell Aviation’s overall approach to sustainability?
In 2022 ICAO adopted an aspirational goal for the aviation industry to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
The aviation industry will need to use all available solutions and measures to decarbonise – no single solution will be enough on its own. These measures include: reducing fuel consumption through operational efficiencies, scaling the use of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), developing electric and hydrogen-powered aircraft, and, finally, using carbon credits to offset emissions from travel where there are no other solutions.
In order to help meet these sector goals, we are already investing in and supplying SAF to customers, offering carbon credits and working to improve sustainability of our lubricants portfolio. We intend to grow our SAF offering, continue to work closely with the industry to assess the development of alternative propulsion technologies, and work with players in the aviation ecosystem to help accelerate the decarbonisation of the aviation sector.
Describe the launch of Shell Aviation’s new lifecycle sustainability approach for AeroShell lubricants.
Shell Aviation has introduced a new lifecycle sustainability approach for its AeroShell aviation lubricants to avoid, reduce and then compensate for lifecycle carbon emissions, helping to support customers in their efforts to meet their sustainability ambitions.
Even though lubricants represent a small proportion of aviation emissions when compared to jet fuel, for the aviation sector to reach net zero it must address emissions from all aspects of aircraft operation. By focusing on each part of the aviation ecosystem, Shell Aviation is playing its part in helping the aviation sector reach net zero by 2050.
Please tell us about the workings of AeroShell’s carbon compensation
Lubricants are challenging to decarbonise and while steps have been taken to avoid and reduce emissions, the majority of emissions are compensated for through our nature-based solutions programme.
Shell’s globally diverse, externally-verified, and high-quality, nature based carbon credits will balance the CO2e emissions from the lifecycle of the products in the raw materials, packaging, production, distribution, customer use and product end of life.
While avoid and reduce measures offer the best way to tackle emissions in the long term, until scalable solutions are deployed, offsets have an immediate role to play in helping aviation to reduce its net emissions. Compensating for emissions now, with high-quality carbon credits, is not a choice, but a necessity.
How is Shell investing to avoid and reduce emissions for the AeroShell range?
Like all other Shell Lubricant's businesses, AeroShell will continue to work to avoid and reduce carbon emissions by optimising production and product design, embedding circularity into product packaging, improving the energy efficiency of facilities, and using renewable energy to reduce emissions across the supply chain.
Across Shell’s entire global lubricants business, to avoid emissions, we have already increased our use of re-refined base oils and used more recycled content in our product plastic packaging.
We have also taken out over 55 KT of CO2e from our operations, reducing our carbon intensity by 45% since 2016. Over 50% of the electricity imported to our lube oil blending plants now comes directly from renewable sources through the installation of solar PV panels and green power contracts, or indirectly using renewable energy credits. In addition, we have optimised our network to reduce road transport by over 1.3 million miles since 2021.
What are Shell’s plans to expand the portfolio of decarbonised lubricants?
I am particularly proud that the new lifecycle sustainability approach will be included as standard across the full AeroShell product range, including turbine engine oils (TEOs), piston engine oils (PEOs), greases and fluids, for both the commercial airline and general aviation markets.
While this new AeroShell offering is about addressing emissions today to help make net zero a reality tomorrow, it is also part of our wider efforts to prepare lubricants for the future of aviation. Alongside our sustainability approach, we will continue to support our customers by providing high-performance lubes that enable efficient flying, which also contributes to aviation’s decarbonisation.
What are the future plans for AeroShell?
We’re working with Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) and others in the value chain to keep pushing the boundaries of our lubricants. We have projects for aviation lubricants for use in electrified and hydrogen powered aircraft as well as electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft (eVTOLs).
More generally, our focus at AeroShell continues to be working hard on being a leading lubricants supplier that is valued by our customers for supporting their performance, and now their sustainability efforts too.