Royal Dutch Shell boss sees pay rise by 126%

The boss of Royal Dutch Shell received a mammoth 126% pay rise last year, pocketing 20.1 million euros (£17 million) after higher oil prices boosted profits at the energy giant.

Chief executive Ben Van Beurden saw his total pay packet climb from 8.9 million euros (£7.6 million) to more than 15 million euros (£12.8 million) as part of a long-term incentive plan. He also scooped a 3 million euro (£2.5 million) annual bonus as part of the award.

It follows a strong annual performance by the oil giant, which in January revealed its biggest profit haul for four years.

The blue chip firm posted underlying earnings of 21.4 billion US dollars (£16.3 billion) for 2018, a rise of 36%.

As well as higher oil prices throughout the bulk of the year, Shell also benefited from dramatic cost-cutting, while it has likewise been selling off assets.

Mr van Beurden has been leading an ambitious efficiency drive since the industry was buffeted by the 2014 oil price crash.

However, the bumper pay award is likely to reignite the debate about executive pay.

Last year, more than a quarter of Shell investors voted against Mr van Beurden’s pay at the energy giant’s annual meeting.

The oil chief’s salary is 143 times that of the average Shell employee.

In its defence, Shell said it is “sensitive to the wider societal discussions regarding the level of executive pay”, adding that it spent a significant amount of time discussing the bumper payout.

The group said: “We reviewed Shell’s CEO pay ratio externally against the ratios that we see in other FTSE 30 companies, which we calculated based on their disclosed employee numbers and employee costs.

“We believe our ratio is consistent with those seen in other FTSE 30 companies, although it is challenging to draw a meaningful comparison given the different markets and industries in which they operate.”