Shell Chief Executive To Step Down

The energy giant is set to gain new leadership in the new year.

Ben van Beurden to step down as chief executive of Shell at the end of the year

Shell’s Ben van Beurden is stepping down from his longtime role as chief executive of the energy supermajor at the end of 2022.

Wael Sawan, the current head of its integrated gas, renewables and energy solutions group, will step into the role and also join Shell’s Board of Directors on 1 January 2023.

“Wael Sawan is 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,” said Shell Chair Andrew Mackenzie.

“He combines these qualities with a passion for people, which enables him to get the best from those around him. The outcome of the Board’s managed succession process resulted both in the appointment of an outstanding CEO and proved the strength and depth of Shell’s leadership talent. I look forward to working with Wael as we accelerate the delivery of our strategy.”

Wael Sawan is set to become Shell's new chief executive on 1 January 2023.

Sawan has been with the company for more than 2 decades and is currently based in The Hague, Netherlands. He has been a member of Shell’s executive committee for 3 years.

Before joining the executive committee, he was the executive vice president for deepwater and a member of the upstream leadership team, executive vice president Qatar, and a member of the integrated gas leadership team.

The London-listed company said 15 September that van Beurden will continue to work as an advisor to the board until 30 June 2023, after which he will leave the Shell group.

Van Beurden started his career at Shell as a liquefied natural gas engineer in 1983, working up through the ranks in various roles, such as executive vice president of Shell Chemicals from 2006 to 2012, before being named chief executive in 2014.

“Ben can look back with great pride on an extraordinary 39-year Shell career, culminating in 9 years as an exceptional CEO,” said Mackenzie.

“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.

“He leaves a financially strong and profitable company with a robust balance sheet, very strong cash generation capability, and a compelling set of options for growth. These were all enabled by bold moves he has led, including the 2016 acquisition of BG and the transformational $30-billion divestment of non-core assets that followed.”

Mackenzie commended van Beurden’s "decisive action to marshal the company through the global pandemic" and for "seizing the opportunity for a major reset to ensure we emerged fitter, stronger, and equipped to succeed in the energy transition."

Sawan added that it had been a privilege to work alongside van Beurden and that he is honored to take over the leadership of the company from him.

“I’m looking forward to channeling the pioneering spirit and passion of our incredible people to rise to the immense challenges, and grasp the opportunities presented by the energy transition,” said Sawan. “We will be disciplined and value focused, as we work with our customers and partners to deliver the reliable, affordable, and cleaner energy the world needs.”

Van Beurden said of his nearly 4 decades of service that in his “journey from LNG design engineer to CEO, I have been fortunate to work alongside so many talented people from diverse backgrounds—all committed to the company’s goal of providing the world with the essential commodities of modern life.”

He added that he has great confidence in Sawan as his successor.

“He is a smart, principled, and dynamic leader, who I know will continue to serve Shell with conviction and dedication. I wish him and his family all the best for the journey ahead.”