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According to the oil giant Shell petroleum, the head of gas and renewables will take over for current CEO 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 is currently in charge of Shell’s massive gas division and its expansion into low-carbon energy sources.
Mr. Sawan declared that he would seize the energy transition’s opportunities.
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.
When the company moved its headquarters to London earlier this year and when Shell acquired the gas giant BG Group for £36 billion in 2015, Mr. van Beurden was in control. 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.
Shell commit to a future without fossil fuel
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 clear that the hydrocarbon business would provide the funding for this shift, which the global economy would require for many years.
A few years ago, this position caused some shareholders to worry that he was off-message and out of touch with reality. However, the present crisis and the global rush to replace Russian supplies with gas have made him look right, and the company is in a solid position.
Mr. Sawan’s hiring, according to Sophie Lund-Yates, a lead equities analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, is a “clear marker” that the organization plans to modify its “rather ambiguous, though grand sounding” renewables policy.
In Sophie’s opinion, change won’t happen immediately, but it’s logical to suppose that, at the very least, adjustments to the current renewable approach may be in the works.
The public is currently very sensitive to claims of profiteering and environmental harm, but for investors, dividends would be more important than the use of renewable energy.
The oil company has received criticism for its environmental performance under Mr. van Beurden. A Dutch court last year ordered Shell to lower its carbon dioxide emissions, stating that they must be cut by 45% from 2019 levels by 2030.
One of the environmental organizations that brought the case, Friends of the Earth, charged Shell with accelerating hazardous climate change and demanding that it be stopped right away.
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 with Shell in May of this year, claiming she could no longer work for a corporation that disregarded all warnings and downplayed the dangers of climate change and ecological collapse.
On the contrary, she continued by saying that Shell has no plans to stop exploring for and extracting oil and gas.
Opinions expressed by California Gazette contributors are their own.