Shell Plc named Canadian Wael Sawan, head of its integrated gas and renewables division, on Thursday as the group’s chief executive officer, replacing Ben van Beurden, with the energy major at the cusp of a transition to cleaner energy.
Sawan, 48, oversees Shell’s growth into low-carbon energies, as well as its giant gas business. He was seen as the front-runner to succeed van Beurden, Reuters reported earlier this month, and will inherit one of the industry’s most ambitious green targets.
Here are some facts on the new boss:
• Born in 1974, Sawan has been heading Shell’s integrated gas, renewables and energy solutions division since November 2021
• A Canadian citizen of Lebanese origin, Sawan is an alumni of Harvard Business School and completed his engineering from Canada’s McGill University
• Sawan joined Shell in 1997 and has been a member of the group’s executive committee for three years now
• Before taking up his current role, Sawan was director of Shell’s upstream business where he oversaw the divestment of the Permian business and decision to exit onshore Nigeria
• Sawan also had stints with Shell’s deepwater and Qatar operations
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The appointment of Sawan as the new CEO reflects the long-term shift in Shell’s priorities, along with much of the industry. The company has pledged to move away from oil toward natural gas, hydrogen, wind and solar power. That shift presents the company with many challenges, but also opportunities, Sawan said.
“I’m looking forward to channeling the pioneering spirit and passion of our incredible people to rise to the immense challenges,” Sawan said in the statement. “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 is well known to the market and his appointment has been arguably well anticipated,” JPMorgan Chase & Co. analyst Christyan Malek said in a note. “We expect him to maintain Shell’s pragmatic and holistic approach to the energy transition.”
Additional reporting by Bloomberg
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