THE boss of oil company Shell saw his pay more than double last year to more than €20 million (£17m).

Ben van Beurden’s pay package was the largest in the company’s history, except 2014 when complex pension calculations inflated the chief executive’s reported salary.

It is only the second time a Shell chief executive’s salary, bonus and long-term incentive plan have cumulatively passed €15m.

Dutchman van Beurden’s pay is now 143 times larger than the average Shell employee in the UK.

The firm’s Remuneration Committee said the ratio was “consistent” with those in the top 30 companies listed in London.

It added that Shell believed in reward packages “that are externally competitive and internally proportionate, meaning the chief executive is the employee with the highest proportion of variable pay as he has the highest level of responsibility”.

Luke Hildyard, director of the High Pay Centre, a UK think-tank, told the Financial Times that Shell “epitomises the flawed governance model and warped corporate culture of modern big business”.

“Pay awards hundreds of times the size of those experienced by the average worker reflect the dim view that business leaders have of the rest of us. They think that prosperity is bestowed by a small elite at the top, and everyone else should be thankful for what little they get,” added Hildyard.

Gerard Kleisterlee, head of Shell’s remuneration committee, said that the people who agreed the rise were “sensitive to the wider societal discussions regarding the level of executive pay and spent a significant amount of time discussing the high single figure for the CEO in 2018”.

Kleisterlee said the remuneration committee took into account the company’s performance over the past three years, which has included milestones such as completing the acquisition of BG Group and a

$30 billion divestment programme and the creation of Shell’s “new energies” business taking it further into renewables as well as investing in electric vehicle charging.

Kleisterlee said: “The CEO’s leadership has been critical in building and delivering on a strategy that is enabling Shell to make such progress in becoming a world-class investment case.”