Changing of the guard at Shell as Wael Sawan is named new CEO

Miquel Gonzalez
Wael Sawan in an official Shell handout. Photo: Miquel Gonzalez

Ben van Beurden is stepping down as chief executive of Shell at the end of this year after nine years in the top job.

Van Beurden, who has had a 39-year career at the oil and gas giant, will be replaced by Wael Sawan, who is currently director of the company’s gas and renewables arm.

Shell chairman Andrew Mackenzie said in a press statement that Sawan, who is currently based in The Hague, is an ‘exceptional leader, with all the qualities needed to drive Shell safely and profitably through its next phase of transition and growth’.

Van Beurden, MacKenzie said, has been in the vanguard of 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.

Van Beurden was also one of the main drivers behind the decision last year to move the company’s headquarters to London and to become a completely British company.

Shell’s origins date back to 1907 when Koninklijke Olie merged with Shell Transport and Trading. The move to London was described as an ‘unpleasant surprise’ by Dutch ministers at the time.

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