Ukraine’s foreign minister has criticised Shell for buying oil from Russia and called on the public to demand big companies cut all business ties with Vladimir Putin’s country.
The oil giant confirmed it made a purchase of crude oil on Friday but said it had “no alternative” in this instance and described the decision as “difficult”.
Dmytro Kuleba hit out publicly, asking the firm on Twitter: “Doesn’t Russian oil smell Ukrainian blood for you?”
It comes after Shell announced on Monday plans to sell its stake in all joint ventures with Russian partner Gazprom, calling the Ukrainian invasion “senseless” and a threat to European security.
Mr Kuleba tweeted: “I am told that Shell discretely bought some Russian oil yesterday. One question to @Shell: doesn’t Russian oil smell Ukrainian blood for you?
“I call on all conscious people around the globe to demand multinational companies to cut all business ties with Russia.”
A spokesman for Shell confirmed to the PA news agency it had bought a consignment of Russian crude oil on Friday but said the company is trying to maintain supplies of essential fuels and in this case it had no alternative crude supplies which would reach Europe in time.
In a statement, the firm said it remains “appalled by the war in Ukraine” and said it has stopped most activities involving Russian oil but added that the situation with supplies is “highly complex”.
A spokesman said: “Our refineries produce petrol and diesel as well as other products that people rely on every day.
“To be clear, without an uninterrupted supply of crude oil to refineries, the energy industry cannot assure continued provision of essential products to people across Europe over the weeks ahead.
“Cargoes from alternative sources would not have arrived in time to avoid disruptions to market supply.
“We didn’t take this decision lightly and we understand the strength of feeling around it.”
The company said while it will “continue to choose alternatives to Russian oil wherever possible” the change “cannot happen overnight because of how significant Russia is to global supply”.
The spokesman added: “We have been in intense talks with governments and continue to follow their guidance around this issue of security of supply, and are acutely aware we have to navigate this dilemma with the utmost care.
“We welcome any direction or insights from governments and policymakers as we try to keep Europe moving and in business.”
Shell has vowed to commit profits “from the limited amount of Russian oil we have to purchase” to a dedicated fund and work with aid partners and humanitarian agencies to “determine where the monies from this fund are best placed to alleviate the terrible consequences that this war is having on the people of the Ukraine”.
On Monday, the company said it would sell its 27.5% stake in a Russian liquefied natural gas facility, a 50% stake in an oilfield project in Siberia and an energy joint venture.
It will also end its involvement in the Nord Stream 2 pipeline between Russia and Germany, which has been put on hold by ministers in Berlin.