Royal Dutch Shell announces new chief exexecutive

Ben van Beurden to succeed Peter Voser at top of Europe’s biggest oil company

Royal Dutch Shell has annoucned Ben van Beurden is to succeed Peter Voser as chief executive officer of Europe's biggest oil company.

Mr Van Beurden (55) has been the head of the company's downstream unit since January. He will take the CEO post on January 1st, 2014. Mr Voser will leave Shell at the end of March after 29 years.

"Ben has deep knowledge of the industry and proven executive experience across a range of Shell businesses," Shell chairman Jorma Ollila said in a statement. "Ben will continue to drive and further develop the strategic agenda that we have set out, to generate competitive returns for our shareholders."

Mr Van Beurden joined Shell in 1983 and has worked in the Netherlands, Africa, Malaysia, the US and the UK. He is a Dutch national with a degree in chemical engineering and married with four children.


Mr Voser, who built the oil company into a leader in liquefied natural gas after previously holding the finance director role during Shell’s 2004 reserves crisis, shocked the industry in May when he announced his departure.

The change at the top comes as the company and its industry face huge challenges. Shell is the western world's number two company by production behind Exxon Mobil. But, like its peers, it is struggling to replace reserves and boost production, and faces a squeeze on earnings as costs rise while the price of oil falls.

"I think it's a reason for optimism, it could mark a new area of technically focused leadership," Santander analyst Jason Kenney told Reuters.

Mr Van Beurden had not been named as a possible contender for the job when Voser announced his departure, with the early focus on finance director Simon Henry and Andrew Brown, who became head of international upstream last year.