Shell Said to Name Pickard Head of Operations in Arctic Region

Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSA), Europe’s largest oil company, plans to name Ann Pickard as head of its Arctic operations, moving her from the helm of the Australian business, a person with knowledge of the matter said.

Pickard, a former Shell executive in Nigeria who became chairwoman of Shell’s Australian business in 2010, is set to start in the new position on June 1, according to the person who asked not to be named because the details haven’t been made public. Andrew Smith, vice president of Shell’s refining and marketing business, will replace Pickard in Australia, the person said.

A phone call and e-mail to Shell spokeswoman Rachael Power in Perth, seeking comment from the company and from Pickard and Smith, weren’t immediately answered.

Shell, which has spent about $4.9 billion over seven years preparing for Arctic exploration, halted plans in February to drill in Alaska’s Arctic waters this year after one of its rigs ran aground. In March, the U.S. Interior Department said The Hague-based company must file detailed plans before it can resume drilling and that rules specific to the Arctic were needed for oil and gas exploration off the coast of Alaska.

Pickard’s planned appointment was reported earlier today by the Australian Financial Review, without citing anyone.

Shell expects to invest about $30 billion in Australia over five years on oil and gas exploration and development, including the Prelude floating LNG project, the company said in 2011. Shell is also a partner in Chevron Corp. (CVX)’s Gorgon LNG venture and Woodside Petroleum Ltd. (WPL)’s proposed Browse project.

Fortune magazine said in November 2008 that Pickard, a Wyoming native, may have had the most dangerous executive position in the oil industry as the Lagos, Nigeria-based regional executive vice president for Africa.

To contact the reporter on this story: James Paton in Sydney at jpaton4@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jason Rogers at jrogers73@bloomberg.net

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