Wael Sawan – the executive currently leading Shell’s renewables operation – will become the oil & gas supermajor’s new CEO after long-standing boss Ben van Beurden steps down at the end of this year.

Sawan, Shell’s director for Integrated Gas, Renewables and Energy Solutions since October 2021, will take the top job on 1 January 2023, the company announced.

Sawan, a 25-year Shell veteran, held a number of roles in the group’s upstream and downstream operations before taking up his current post.

Van Beurden leaves the CEO role after nine years but will stay on as an adviser at the UK-based energy giant until mid-2023.

Shell chair Sir Andrew Mackenzie said: “Wael Sawan is an exceptional leader, with all the qualities needed to drive Shell safely and profitably through its next phase of transition and growth. His track record of commercial, operational and transformational success reflects not only his broad, deep experience and understanding of Shell and the energy sector, but also his strategic clarity.”

Sawan added: “I’m looking forward to channeling the pioneering spirit and passion of our incredible people to rise to the immense challenges, and grasp the opportunities presented by the energy transition.”

Like European oil & gas peers such as BP and TotalEnergies, Shell has set out on a strategy that claims to embrace the energy transition by expanding in power and renewables while continuing to deliver profits from the fossil fuels sector.

That has seen the supermajor make significant moves into offshore wind – including floating, where it is involved in several pioneering technology and project ventures – as well as making acquisitions such as this year’s $1.55bn deal for Sprng Energy, one of India’s fastest-growing wind and solar developer and operators.

On the flip side, the company has faced continuing criticism from environmental activists and legal action in the Dutch courts over the pace of its energy transition.