ENERGY EXECUTIVE OF THE YEAR 2019
Ben van Beurden, Chief Executive Officer of Royal Dutch Shell p.l.c., has been named 2019 Energy Intelligence Petroleum Executive of the Year. He was chosen by a selection committee made up of top global oil industry executives, and is the 23rd winner of this highly-regarded, peer-selected honor. The award will be presented to van Beurden on October 8, at the gala dinner held at the close of the first day of the 40th annual Oil & Money conference in London.
“Ben van Beurden’s five years in charge of Shell have coincided with a challenging time for the oil and gas industry,” said Jim Washer, Executive Editor of Energy Intelligence. “International oil companies have had to deal with a fall in crude oil prices, increased scrutiny over their carbon footprint, and questions over the long-term viability of their business model as the world approaches the energy transition. Ben van Beurden’s leadership in the face of these challenges has been characterized by a willingness to take bold decisions, often against the grain of industry opinion, and has created a blueprint for how the big oil companies of the 20th century can be repositioned to meet the energy needs of the 21st century.”
Since taking over as chief executive in 2014, van Beurden has consolidated Shell’s leading position in the deepwater and LNG with the acquisition of UK rival BG, overseen the high-grading of the company’s portfolio via a $30 billion divestment program, and in 2018 delivered an additional $10 billion in cash flow from operations while maintaining capital discipline.
Van Beurden has also put Shell at the forefront of industry efforts to engage on the issue of climate change. The supermajor was a driving force behind the formation of the Oil & Gas Climate Initiative (OGCI), and last year made a landmark commitment to link executive remuneration to short-term targets set as part of its long-term ambition to reduce the net carbon footprint of its products.
Van Beurden has also been clear about how Shell needs to thrive through the energy transition, with a heavier emphasis on gas, power, petrochemicals and biofuels, telling Energy Intelligence in an interview last October: “If we want to be an integral part of the energy system of the future, we will need to deliver the products that society needs on its way to meeting [the UN’s] Paris [goals].”
Van Beurden joined Shell in 1983 after graduating with a master’s degree in chemical engineering from Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands. He held a number of operational and commercial roles across the organization, including some 10 years in the LNG business and postings in Sudan, Malaysia, London, Houston and The Hague.
In January 2005, he was made Vice President for Manufacturing Excellence, with responsibility for standards and high-performance initiatives in Shell’s refining and chemicals businesses, before being appointed Executive Vice President for Chemicals in December 2006, in charge of the company’s worldwide chemicals operations.
Van Beurden became a member of Shell’s Executive Committee in January 2013 as Downstream Director, with regional responsibility for Europe and Turkey, before being appointed Chief Executive Officer in January 2014.
The selection process for the Petroleum Executive of the Year award is administered by Energy Intelligence, which gathers nominations from the heads of the world’s 100 largest oil companies, as determined by the annual Energy Intelligence Top 100 rankings. Nominations are then voted on by a special selection committee made up of previous award winners and other senior oil executives. Previous winners of the award include Bob Dudley of BP (2018), Patrick Pouyanné of Total (2017), H.E. Khalid al-Falih of Saudi Aramco (2016), Rex W. Tillerson of Exxon Mobil (2015), Emilio Lozoya Austin of Pemex (2014), Peter Voser of Royal Dutch Shell (2013), Fu Chengyu of Sinopec (2012), José Sergio Gabrielli de Azevedo of Petrobras (2011), and Andrew Gould of Schlumberger (2010). The 40th annual Oil & Money conference, hosted by Energy Intelligence and The New York Times, will be held on October 8-10, 2019. For more information, please visit Oil & Money.