The oil major Shell has announced that its head of gas and renewables will take over for its current boss Ben van Beurden.
Wael Sawan will succeed Mr. van Beurden when he retires at the end of 2022.
Mr. Sawan, a dual Lebanese-Canadian national who once oversaw Shell’s oil and gas production division, was thought to be the front-runner to become CEO.
He currently is in charge of both Shell’s massive gas division and its expansion into low-carbon energy sources.
“Grasp the opportunities given by the energy transformation,” Mr. Sawan declared.
To provide the dependable, affordable, and greener energy that the world requires, he declared, “We will be disciplined and value-centered as we engage with our customers and partners.”
Mr. van Beurden has “been in the vanguard for the transformation of Shell to a net-zero emissions energy business by 2050 and has been a leading industry voice on some of the most significant issues facing society,” according to Sir Andrew Mackenzie, chairman of Shell.
Mr. van Beurden oversaw the company’s headquarters move to London earlier this year and the Shell acquisition of the gas giant BG Group for £36 billion in 2015.
He handled Shell’s pledge to eliminate emissions and oil output by 2050.
Ben van Beurden served as CEO of Shell for the final nine years of his career.
His purchase of the gas company BG Group for $52 billion (£36 billion) in 2015 will be his lasting legacy.
Just as many countries determined that gas would be their transitional fuel from coal to cleaner alternatives, this turbocharged Shell’s gas and LNG operations, generating bumper profits for the company that delighted shareholders and outraged campaigners and some governments.
Along with starting the oil giant’s transition from an oil and gas corporation to an energy company, Mr. van Beurden also gave it a long-term goal of becoming carbon neutral by the year 2050.
But he was very clear that the hydrocarbons business would provide the funding for this shift, which the global economy would require for many years to come.
Some investors had concerns about this posture a few years ago, thinking he was off-message and out of touch with the times, but the present crisis and the global rush for gas to replace Russian supplies have made him look right and put the company in a very good position.
The hiring of Mr. Sawan, according to Hargreaves Lansdown’s lead stock analyst Sophie Lund-Yates, is “obvious evidence” that the business plans to modify its “rather imprecise, though big sounding” renewables strategy.
Change won’t occur immediately, but it’s logical to believe that at the very least adjustments to the current renewable approach may be in the works, she added.
According to her, the public is currently “extremely sensitive about claims of profiteering and environmental damage,” but for investors, dividends would take precedence over a strategy for renewable energy.
In March of this year, Shell filed an appeal against the decision because, according to Mr. van Beurden, Shell shouldn’t be held accountable for its clients’ emissions.
Safety expert Caroline Dennett left her position at Shell in May of this year, citing her inability to “any longer work for a firm that ignores all the sirens and denies the risks of climate change and ecological collapse.”
Shell “is not winding down on oil and gas, but plans to explore and extract much more,” she continued.
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