Shell’s Renewables Director to Head Company After CEO’s Exit

Shell’s Renewables Director to Head Company After CEO’s Exit

/ News & Interviews / Thursday, 15 September 2022 12:12

British energy giant Shell’s Chief Executive, Ben van Beurden, will step down at the end of the year to be replaced by Renewables Director Wael Sawan.

Van Beurden’s tenure of nine years as CEO will end with the succession of the head of integrated gas, renewables and energy solutions, according to Shell’s company statement.

Commenting on Sawan’s appointment, Shell’s Chairman Sir Andrew Mackenzie said,“Wael Sawan is an exceptional leader, with all the qualities needed to drive Shell safely and profitably through its next phase of transition and growth. His track record of commercial, operational and transformational success reflects not only his broad, deep experience and understanding of Shell and the energy sector, but also his strategic clarity.”

Responding to the development, out-going CEO Ben van Beurden said, “It has been a privilege and an honour to have served Shell for nearly four decades and to lead the company for the past nine years. In my journey from LNG design engineer to CEO, I have been fortunate to work alongside so many talented people from diverse backgrounds – all committed to the company’s goal of providing the world with the essential commodities of modern life. I am very proud of what we have achieved together. I have great confidence in Wael as my successor. He is a smart, principled and dynamic leader, who I know will continue to serve Shell with conviction and dedication. I wish him and his family all the best for the journey ahead.”

Van Beurden, who is 64, headed the company amidst challenging oil market conditions during the 2020 COVID lockdowns, which saw oil prices drop considerably. This year, Van Beurden presided over its costly withdrawal from Russian gas and oil after Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

With the demand for oil rising post-pandemic and short supplies due to the Russia-Ukraine war hiking prices, Shell’s net profits soared over five-fold to $18 billion in the second quarter of 2022.

Under his tenure, Shell last year simplified its name and structure and outlined plans to slash greenhouse gas emissions. The group moved headquarters from the Netherlands to the UK and dropped Royal Dutch from its name.

Meanwhile, Sawan's appointment comes as the oil giant looks to transition towards a net-zero emissions business, despite criticism from environmental campaigners who accuse it of corporate "greenwashing"—the practice of marketing a company as more climate-friendly than it claims to be.

Responding to his appointment, Sawan said, “It’s been a privilege to work alongside Ben, and I’m honoured to take over the leadership of this great company from him. I’m looking forward to channelling the pioneering spirit and passion of our incredible people to rise to the immense challenges and grasp the opportunities presented by the energy transition. We will be disciplined and value-focused as we work with our customers and partners to deliver the reliable, affordable and cleaner energy the world needs.”

Van Beurden joined Shell in 1983, after graduating with a Master’s degree in Chemical Engineering from Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands. He will continue to work as an advisor to the board until June 30, when he will leave the group.

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