The appointment of Sawan as the new CEO reflects the long-term shift in Shell’s priorities, away from oil and toward natural gas, hydrogen, wind and solar power. Image Credit: Bloomberg

London: Shell CEO Ben van Beurden will step down at the end of this year after almost 40 years at the company, to be replaced by the firm’s head of gas and renewables, Wael Sawan.

Van Beurden, 64, has steered the company through some of its most turbulent times. The first big move of his tenure as CEO, which began in 2014, was the takeover of rival BG Group, a deal valued at close to $50 billion that tested the company’s finances during an oil price slump but is paying huge dividends today as natural gas prices soar.

At the outset of the pandemic, van Beurden made the first cut to Shell’s dividend since the Second World War, a move that upset investors and underscored the seriousness of the global health crisis for the oil and gas industry. He was also the architect of the company’s plan to shift from fossil fuels to cleaner sources of energy and achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.