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    Shell CEO van Beurden to step down


Van Beurden is stepping down after a nine-year stint at the company, during which time it has undergone a significant transformation. [image credit: Shell]

by: NGW

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Shell CEO van Beurden to step down

 Shell CEO Ben van Beurden will step down from his role at the end of this year after a nine-year stint, to be replaced by company veteran Wael Sawan, the oil major announced on September 15.

During van Beurden's time in the top role, Shell has undergone a significant transformation, increasing its focus on LNG with the 2016 acquisition of BG Group and subsequently $30bn in sales of non-core assets. After initial resistance, Shell also began committing to firm emission reduction targets in 2017, although the company nevertheless continues to face criticism from environmentalists that its goals are not ambitious enough.


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“Ben can look back with great pride on an extraordinary 39-year Shell career, culminating in nine years as an exceptional CEO," company chair Andrew Mackenzie said in a statement. "During the last decade, he has been in the vanguard for the transition of Shell to a net-zero emissions energy business by 2050 and has become a leading industry voice on some of the most important issues affecting society."

Mackenzie said van Beurden left behind "a financially strong and profitable company with a robust balance sheet, very strong cash generation capability and a compelling set of options for growth."

Van Beurden will continue to work as an advisor on the company's board until the end of June next year, after which he will leave the group.

Sawan, a 48-year-old Canadian and Lebanese national, has worked in the company for 25 years. He is currently its director for integrated gas, renewables and energy solutions, and prior to that served as the head of its upstream business. He is based in The Hague.

Mackenzie described Sawan as "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," the chair said.

Shell has continued to beef up its emissions targets, most recently in response to a Dutch court ruling in May last year on a case launched by environmentalists, which concluded that the company was not doing enough to reduce its climate impact. The company is appealing the verdict.

Under its current plan, Shell aims to reduce its Scope 1 and 2 emissions by 50% and its Scope 3 emissions by 20% by the end of this decade, and like many of its peers is targeting net-zero emissions by 2050.