Shell’s gas & renewables boss Wael Sawan to take over as CEO; Ben van Beurden stepping down
Shell CEO Ben van Beurden will step down as the leader of the oil and gas group on 1 January 2023. The Dutch businessman will be succeeded by Wael Sawan, who currently heads up the group’s gas and renewable energy business. After his resignation, Van Beurden will remain as an advisor for a period of time.
Van Beurden spent his entire career at Shell, joining the company in 1983. He has been at the helm of the oil and gas group since January 2014. Van Beurden said in a statement it was a "privilege and honor" to have worked at Shell for nearly four decades and to have led the company for the past nine years. He indicates that he has great faith in Sawan.
Shell chair Andrew Mackenzie said Sawan is an extraordinary leader who "has all the qualities to lead Shell safely and profitably through the coming phase of transition and growth." Sawan was born in Beirut in 1974 and holds both Lebanese and Canadian nationality.
Mackenzie stated that Van Beurden can look back on his career at Shell with great pride, and that he was an "exceptional" CEO. Van Beurden is leaving Shell as a financially strong and profitable company, Mackenzie continued.
Under Van Beurden's leadership, Shell acquired British energy company BG Group in 2016 for 53 billion dollars. That was Shell’s largest acquisition in the company’s history. Shell also sold off many of its activities to pay down debt.
In addition, Shell is increasingly focusing on sustainable energy sources due to the energy transition. Shell has a target to be completely carbon neutral by 2050. However, the company has been criticized by environmental groups for doing too little to reduce emissions. Last year Milieudefensie won a lawsuit against Shell when it claimed the company was not reducing emissions fast enough.
Furthermore, under Van Beurden’s leadership, Shell has become an entirely British company on paper. Last November, Shell decided to move its headquarters to the United Kingdom in order to simplify the company structure.
Shell recorded a record profit last quarter, thanks to the sharp rise in energy prices due to the war in Ukraine. Shell has withdrawn completely from Russia due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. As a result, the company had to write off billions on its Russian activities.
Reporting by ANP