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June 4 (Bloomberg) -- Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Europe’s largest oil company by market value, said Ann Pickard will succeed Russell Caplan as chairman of its Australian operations on Aug. 1.

Caplan, 64, who has been chairman since Feb. 1, 2006, is retiring after 42 years with Shell, the Hague-based company said in an e-mailed statement today. Pickard will also continue to be executive vice president for oil and gas exploration and production in the country, Shell said.

Shell Australia’s business includes two refineries, the Prelude floating liquefied natural gas project, a stake in the Chevron Corp.-led Gorgon LNG venture, and a proposed coal-seam gas to LNG plant in Queensland state. Perth-based Pickard, 54, took up her Australian role in March following her role as Shell’s regional executive vice president for Africa.

Australia is a key growth region for Shell as the company shifts its focus toward gas, Chief Executive Officer Peter Voser said in March. Shell said it will spend more than $100 billion globally by 2014 and expects the share of gas as a proportion of output to increase to 52 percent in 2012.

Australia is “the biggest growth area we’ve got,” Pickard said last month. She was previously based in Lagos, Nigeria, for about four years.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ben Sharples in Melbourne at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Clyde Russell in Singapore at

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