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Shell picks renewables boss Sawan as new CEO

September 15, 2022

Wael Sawan, a Canadian national, is to replace Ben van Beurden at the helm of the British energy company.

A Shell refinery in Wesseling, Germany
Shell is changing CEOs as the company comes under growing pressure over its carbon footprintImage: Christoph Hardt/Geisler-Fotopress/picture alliance

British energy giant Shell announced on Thursday that its director of gas and renewables, Wael Sawan, will succeed Ben van Beurden as CEO when the latter steps down at the end of the year. 

The appointment of Sawan is effective from January 1, the company said in a statement.

Van Beurden, a Dutch national, has been in charge of the company since 2014. He will continue to work as an adviser to the board until June 30, the statement added.

According to the Reuters news agency, Sawan, who previously headed Shell's oil and gas production business, was picked from a shortlist of four candidates.

Ben van Beurden
Van Beurden led the company for almost a decadeImage: Sergei Karpukhin/AP Photo/picture alliance

A company under pressure

Under van Beurden, Shell initially resisted calls to come up with concrete targets to reduce its contribution to greenhouse gas emissions that are known to cause dangerous warming of the Earth's atmosphere.

However, as it faces increasing pressure from environmental activists, the company has gradually set more ambitious goals since 2017 to tackle climate change.

Shell says it now aims to reduce emissions to net zero by 2050, with several short and medium-term targets.

"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," Sawan said in a statement.

tj/fb (Reuters, AFP)