Shell CEO Van Beurden to step down

Shell CEO Ben van Beurden

Chief executive of Shell Ben van Beurden will step down later this year, handing over the reins to the company’s Canadian director of integrated gas, renewables and energy solutions, Wael Sawan.

Beurden, a Dutch, has been chief executive for nearly a decade.

After resigning as chief executive at the end of this year, he would continue to advise the board until next June.

He would leave behind a significant legacy in the oil major.

Under his leadership, Shell had to give up its “Royal Dutch’’ designation for the first time in more than 100 years as it scrapped its listing in the Netherlands.

The headquarters of Shell also moved to London at the same time, forcing Mr van Beurden to leave his native country.

But perhaps the most consequential moment of the chief executive’s time in charge was the promise that Shell would become a carbon net zero company by the middle of this century.

For now, it was merely a promise for a long time into the future but Shell also had a target to halve absolute emissions by 2030, compared with where they were in 2016.

“Ben can look back with great pride on an extraordinary 39-year Shell career, culminating in nine years as an exceptional CEO,’’ said Shell chairman Sir Andrew Mackenzie.

“During the last decade, he has been in the vanguard for the transition of Shell to a net zero emissions energy business by 2050.

“It has become a leading industry voice on some of the most important issues affecting society.’’

Mr 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 are committed to the company’s goal of providing the world with the essential commodities of modern life.’’

Mr Sawan, his replacement, also came from a lifetime spent at the oil major.

He started at Shell a quarter a century ago.

The Canadian has held his current job for just under a year but had been part of the executive committee since he was appointed as director of upstream three years ago.

If he stayed as long as Mr van Beurden, he would have to answer for those 2030 environmental targets that were left by his predecessor.

“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,’’ he said.