OIL giant Royal Dutch Shell avoided a revolt over chief executive Ben van Beurden’s £4.3 million pay package yesterday – although a higher percentage of shareholders than last year voted against the remuneration report.

While the report was approved by more than 86 per cent of proxy shareholders at the annual meeting, more than 14 per cent of investors opposed it, up from just under 4 per cent last year.

Investors had been urged to vote against the remuneration report in protest at Mr van Beurden’s pay in 2015, even though it marked a significant reduction from the €24.2m (£18.6m) he was paid in 2014 in the wake of plunging profits and the falling oil price.

Shareholder advisory firm Pirc had argued he still earned 37 times the average employee’s pay, which it described as “unacceptable”.

But it was not enough to deter shareholders from voting the pay packet through.

Shareholders in oil giant BP recently voted to reject its remuneration report, which included a pay deal of $19.6m (£13.8m) for chief executive Bob Dudley. Mining giant Anglo American has also faced investor protests after 42 per cent of shareholders voted against chief executive Mark Cutifani’s £3.4m pay package for 2015.

Shell also faced a barrage of questions regarding climate change after shareholder groups tabled a special resolution calling for the group to invest profits from oil and gas into renewable energy and “stop the exploration and acquisition of more oil and gas”.

Mr van Beurden said that adopting a renewable-only policy was not something Shell would support.

He said: “Tying the company down to a renewables-only policy would be strategically unwise. The next decades will see energy transition and Shell will adapt to a world that requires less CO2.”

Shell also defended its dividend policy in response to calls to link it to the oil price, which has plummeted since 2014, claiming that most shareholders instead favour “stable and significant returns”.

Last year the dividend stood at $12 billion and, after the completion of its acquisition of rival BG, it will rise to $15bn. Earlier this year, Shell said it expected to shed 2,800 jobs following the BG takeover.

These are in addition to the 7,500 jobs Shell has shed since the crude price started falling. The company is reviewing its North Sea business to focus on big growth projects including the giant Clair and Schiellallion fields West of Shetland.