Shell CEO Ben van Beurden to be replaced by Wael Sawan next year

Wael Sawan will become Shell’s next chief executive on January 1.

Ina Fasbender | AFP | Getty Images

oil giant Shell announced on Thursday that CEO Ben van Beurden will step down at the end of the year after nearly a decade at the helm.

Wael Sawan, currently director of integrated gas, renewables and power solutions at Shell, will become its next chief executive on January 1.

The news follows speculation that Shell was actively looking for a successor to replace van Beurden as chief executive.

Reuters reported in early September, citing two unnamed sources, that Shell’s board succession committee had met several times over the past few months to work out van Beurden’s departure plans and interview potential successors.

It has now been confirmed that Sawan will take over.

A Lebanese and Canadian national, Sawan has held positions in downstream retail and various commercial projects during his 25-year career with Shell.

“I look forward to harnessing the pioneering spirit and passion of our incredible people to meet the immense challenges and seize the opportunities presented by the energy transition,” Sawan said in a statement, adding that it was an honor to follow van the direction of Beurden.

“We will be disciplined and value-driven as we work with our customers and partners to deliver the reliable, affordable and cleaner energy the world needs.”

Seen here speaking at an event in Germany in 2013, Sawan has held roles in downstream retail and various commercial projects during his 25-year career at Shell.

Adam Berry | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Shares of Shell rose 0.7% in early morning trading in London. The stock price has risen more than 40% since the start of the year.

Van Beurden, 64, joined Shell in 1983 and became the company’s CEO in 2014, having served as director of the company’s refining and chemicals businesses.

The outgoing CEO oversaw Shell’s biggest acquisition in decades with the $53 billion purchase of rival BG Group in 2016guided the company through a historic collapse in energy demand in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, and is facing increased pressure from investors to reduce the company’s greenhouse gas emissions.

“It has been a privilege and an honor to have served Shell for nearly four decades and to lead the business for the past nine years,” van Beurden said.

“I am very proud of what we have accomplished together. I have great confidence in Wael as my successor. He is an intelligent, dynamic and principled leader who I know will continue to serve Shell with conviction and dedication,” he added.

Shell said van Beurden would continue to work as an adviser to the board until June 30 next year, after which he will leave the company.

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