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James Burgess

James Burgess

James Burgess studied Business Management at the University of Nottingham. He has worked in property development, chartered surveying, marketing, law, and accounts. He has also…

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Shell Shocks the Market with Appointment of New CEO

In May 2013 Peter Voser, the chief executive officer of Royal Dutch Shell, shocked the energy world when he announced his desire to step down from the top job after less than five years, in order to spend more time with his family in Switzerland.

Shell, Europe’s largest oil company, has just made another surprising announcement by appointing Ben van Beurden as the man to succeed Mr. Voser on 1st January 2014.

Mr. van Beurden, who took over as the head of Shell’s large marketing and refining business in January 2013, is considered a surprising choice due to the fact that he beat far better known candidates for the job, such as; Andrew Brown, head of exploration and production; Marvin Odum, head of Shell’s Americas division; and Simon Henry, the chief financial officer and favourite to win the post.

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Ben van Buerden
Ben van Buerden. (rtlnieuws)

Peter Hutton, an analyst at RBC Capital Markets, stated that “this will be something of a surprise to analysts. However, it was always clear that Shell would appoint the person it felt had the best combination of skills for the job, not necessarily the best known to the external community.”

For 10 years Mr. van Beurden has played a key role in the development of Shell’s liquefied natural gas (LNG) business, helping turn the company into the world’s leading publically traded company in the LNG market.  Shell has shown a great desire to focus on natural gas and LNG, and it could be this experience that pushed him ahead of the other candidates.

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Jorma Ollila, Shell’s chairman, stated on Tuesday; “I am delighted to announce Ben van Beurden as the next Chief Executive Officer of Royal Dutch Shell. Ben will continue to drive and further develop the strategic agenda that we have set out, to generate competitive returns for our shareholders.”

Unlike many other oil majors, Shell prefers to invest in large, long-term projects that maybe offer less potential for large profits, but also offer steadier returns with far less risk.

The desire to expand into the natural gas market, especially to take advantage of the growing demand coming from China, and other developing countries, has led to the construction of the $20 billion Pearl gas-to-liquids plant in Qatar. LNG and gas to liquids offers a far more modest return than oil exploration and production, but analysts say that they produce steady cash flow for many decades, with very little additional capital expenditure.

By. James Burgess of Oilprice.com

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