Octopus Energy buys Shell Energy: what it means for Shell customers

One in four UK homes will now be powered by Octopus Energy as it has completed its deal to buy Shell Energy. The move makes Octopus the second-largest energy supplier in the UK, behind British Gas owner Centrica. So what does this mean for you if you’re a Shell customer? 

Shell Energy UK has 1.3 million energy customers and a further 500,000 people signed up to its broadband. These households will now be switched to Octopus from 1 December 2023 until mid-2024. The supplier is set to sell Shell’s internet business on to TalkTalk (more on this below).

Snapping up the additional two million customers from Shell Energy has boosted Octopus’s overall customer numbers to 6.6 million households. This figure already includes the 1.5 million people it took on from Bulb last year, after the energy supplier went bust at the start of the energy crisis.

It comes after the Ofgem energy price cap rose 5% on 1 January 2024. The energy bills limit is predicted to go down over the course of 2024. In the meantime, if you’re looking to switch suppliers, visit our energy comparison guide.

What does this mean if you’re a Shell Energy customer?

If you get your gas and electricity from Shell Energy, you don’t have to do anything. Only your billing company has changed, so you will continue to be supplied with gas and electricity. Octopus says it will get in touch with customers over the coming days.

If you have a fixed deal, it will stay the same and if you sit on the Ofgem price cap, it’s business as usual. Octopus has said credit balances and direct debits will automatically be transferred over to it. This migration will take place at some point between now and mid-2024. After its completion, you will be an Octopus Energy customer.

While the transfer is taking place, Octopus has urged Shell customers not to switch supplier as it could impact their service and their move across to a new supplier.

In the meantime, you should continue to submit meter readings and pay your bills as usual. Pay as you go customers can still top up using the Shell Energy app (and online for smart prepayment meters). Octopus will tell you when this situation will change.

In the meantime, if you have any questions or complaints about your energy bills or usage, you should still contact Shell Energy in the usual way until Octopus has completed your account transfer. Likewise, if you need help paying your energy bills, you should contact Shell until you’ve been migrated over.

To keep up with the latest developments on the migration, Octopus has set up an information page for Shell Energy customers.

What does this mean if you’re a Shell Energy Broadband customer?

Once again, you don’t need to do anything and should keep paying your bills and contacting Shell in the usual way. Octopus says nothing will change for Shell’s broadband customers. Your service and billing will continue as normal until Octopus tells you otherwise.

Reports suggest major broadband provider TalkTalk is in the process of acquiring Shell’s former customers from Octopus. An announcement is expected imminently. If you’re thinking of switching, see our best broadband deals guide for more information.

What happens if I’m in credit when I switch to Octopus?

You won’t lose any of the credit on your Shell Energy gas and electricity account. Any money in there will be transferred across to your Octopus account, along with your payment method, like direct debits. If your energy account is below zero at the point of transfer and you owe money, it’s not a case of wiping the slate clean, as this too will be transferred to Octopus.

Right now, if you’re struggling to pay your energy and broadband bills, you will still be able to access Shell’s customer hardship fund. Once you’ve been migrated over, you will be directed to use Octopus’s Assist Fund. Contact Shell Energy in the normal way until Octopus takes over your account.

Can I be forced to move to Octopus?

First off, it’s worth saying that Octopus is frequently rated highly for its customer service. Its energy offering is pretty innovative, and offers different ways to save money, for example via its Tracker and Agile tariffs. At the moment, the supplier also has the cheapest fix on the market. So, you’ll probably want to stick with the transfer if you’re a Shell customer.

While you can switch suppliers at any time, if you are on a fixed contract, leaving mid-term right now may incur penalties. If, however, you’re out of your energy contract and, like most households, on your supplier’s standard tariff, (which is subject to the energy price cap), you can shop around and switch providers without incurring penalties.

But you should note Octopus Energy’s warning that any switch may be impacted as a result of your account transfer from Shell to Octopus. So, unless you see a really good deal, it’s probably worth remaining with Shell until you’ve been fully transferred across to Octopus.

Under market rules, if the terms of your contract are then changed and you don’t feel this benefits you, you can switch, penalty free.