Securing Louisiana's Energy Future

Meet Lee Stockwell: Shell’s National Leader for Carbon Capture and LSU Engineering Alumnus 

Lee Stockwell with students

LSU petroleum engineering alumnus Lee Stockwell leads carbon capture development for Shell on a national level and continues to work with LSU to protect Louisiana’s leadership position in energy, the state’s number-one industry. “We can work together to provide safe, affordable and clean energy to people around the globe.” 

– Photo courtesy of Shell

Lee Stockwell graduated from LSU with a bachelor’s degree in petroleum engineering in 2001, at a time when U.S. oil production had been decreasing for decades. Today, as a leader in a rapidly changing industry, he serves as the general manager of carbon capture and storage, or CCS, at Shell, shaping the nationwide development of one of the premier technologies for the ongoing transition toward energy sustainability for the world.

“Jobs in energy may not be the same as they used to be, and there’s going to be further diversification of what petroleum engineering is used for,” Stockwell said. “But LSU provided a host of different skills that made me part of who I am today, and certainly part of what success looks like to me. And so, when I look at what LSU is doing across the energy space, I see the future. The U.S. energy transition or transformation is going to require expertise from multiple disciplines and a trusted voice, and that voice will come from LSU.”

Carbon capture technology can lower the amount of greenhouse gases—primarily carbon dioxide, or CO2—in the atmosphere. Capturing CO2 before it’s emitted from industrial point sources, such as along the Mississippi River between Baton Rouge and New Orleans and along the Gulf Coast, where much of the state’s and nation’s chemical manufacturing and refining operations are concentrated, remains the most efficient approach.

“The challenge we’re working to solve at Shell is to make a step change in how much CO2 we emit around the globe,” Stockwell said. “Not reducing it by 10,000 tons per year, but by millions of tons. Louisiana historically has been a leader in the energy sector. That leadership means people are willing to listen and engage on new and innovative approaches required throughout this energy transformation journey. That’s why we look to LSU to help us grow the backbone of what Louisiana’s next move will be and what coming generations of the energy workforce will be able to create.”

To support emerging industry needs and educate the workforce of a yet-evolving energy future, LSU’s Craft & Hawkins Department of Petroleum Engineering added a new concentration in CCUS last year (the U stands for use, which connects with chemical engineering). This coincided with a historic gift from Shell to LSU—$27.5 million, including $25 million toward the creation of the new LSU Institute for Energy Innovation, which will help guide the university, industry partners and the state through the energy transition Louisiana needs.

“It’s going to take a lot of work and it isn’t just an engineering challenge or a science challenge,” Stockwell said, “It’s an educational challenge. It’s a policy challenge. It’s a workforce development challenge and a human resource challenge. Yes, there are technical components, but the transition is so much broader than that, which is why LSU is such a great partner. There are so many problems that need to be tackled that we just haven’t thought about before. If we approach them from a single angle, we’ll go slower—and we can’t afford to go slower.”

Lee Stockwell speaks at announcement of Shell gift to LSU

Lee Stockwell spoke at the 2022 announcement of Shell’s $27.5 million gift to LSU to support innovation for a safe and sustainable energy future for Louisiana and the world. “I look at LSU and see continued leadership for what the industry needs.” 

– Photo courtesy of LSU Foundation

While the world currently emits about 40 billion tons of CO2 each year, only about 40 million are captured and stored. According to the International Energy Agency, the world should invest in solutions to bring the current 0.1 percent of relative carbon capture to about 15 percent to allow for sustainable economic growth.

“Carbon capture doesn’t just have to be successful; it has to grow at an immense rate,” Stockwell said. “It’s imperative that it succeeds, and it’s imperative that we have help from the government and universities in making it succeed. I believe CCS will make a tremendous difference for Louisiana.”

Stockwell describes a feeling of growing momentum for new approaches to energy production and use, whether he’s walking the hallways at Shell, visiting the Louisiana State Capitol in Baton Rouge, recruiting LSU students—he officially serves as Shell’s campus executive—or talking with “brother and sister businesses.”

“Louisiana is home, right? So, I’m looking to give back as we sit on the verge of a lot of beginnings,” Stockwell said. “People are exploring what the energy transition will look like and everyone is putting their first seeds in the ground. I see LSU’s role as that of a farmer in this space. LSU is helping to create the environment for a lot of these seeds to become flowers or plants and has already built a roadmap for carbon capture and, importantly, for what success in carbon capture will look like. LSU sees the future and is creating the pathway that will get us there.”

Stockwell did not initially intend to study petroleum engineering when he attended LSU. He first majored in chemical engineering.

“My first semester at LSU, one of the advisors from petroleum engineering came up to me and offered me a stipend to switch to petroleum engineering,” Stockwell said. “I had car insurance to pay for, so I said yes, and that’s how I got into the industry.”

His choosing to go to LSU, however, was not random. Born and raised in Baton Rouge, he practically grew up on campus where his mother worked as a med tech for the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine before continuing her education to become a high school biology teacher.

“In our house, we always had turtles and frogs and rats and all these things she was bringing to class, so the sciences were always interesting to me,” Stockwell said.

Graduating from LSU in 2001, Stockwell took a job with Shell almost immediately, enticed by the idea of working for a global company and being able to travel and see things from multiple perspectives.

“I may not have been able to put a fine point to what attracted me then, but I certainly can now,” Stockwell said. “I’d never left the country before Shell sent me to Malaysia for training a month after being hired. It fostered a love of learning and travel.”


Having already worked to calculate and control emissions as a student at LSU, Stockwell became focused on safety and sustainability. In 2016, he was promoted to general manager for deep water safety and environment at Shell, which allowed him to write the company’s strategy for greenhouse gas emissions for all their deep water business and then operate Shell’s two deepest offshore platforms on the planet, which are both in the Gulf of Mexico.

“At that point, I became the CO2 focal point for the Gulf of Mexico,” Stockwell said, who’s since transitioned to become Shell’s CCS lead for the nation. “Now, I get to marry my career aspirations, my life aspirations and the ability to give back to LSU and Louisiana, so this is kind of a nexus of opportunity for me and something I’m very grateful for.”

When asked what skills he learned as a student at LSU that he still carries with him today, Stockwell doesn’t hesitate.

“How to think through a problem,” he said. “I was working almost a full-time job in engineering while I was at LSU, and my professors allowed me to bring things that were not part of school into the classroom all the time—any question I had about what I was working on at the time. That made an enormous difference and helped me be successful.”

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