Royal Dutch Shell Plc said Malcolm Brinded, a 37-year veteran at the company, will step down as exploration and production director and be replaced by Andrew Brown, currently Shell’s Qatar chairman.
Brinded, 58, who worked as an executive director for almost 10 years, will leave the company after April, said Jon French, a London-based spokesman. Brown has been promoted to join the executive committee as an exploration director after overseeing at least $21 billion of Shell’s investment in Qatar.
“Malcolm after a very distinguished career of 37 years is stepping down,” Chief Executive Officer Peter Voser said in an interview in The Hague today. “He’s replaced by Andy. who delivered two out of three flagship projects in Qatar. He will drive the upstream international strategy forward.”
Shell, Europe’s largest oil company, saw production fall 3 percent to 3.2 million barrels of oil equivalent a day last year after rising in 2010 to end eight years of decline. The Anglo-Dutch company’s projects in Qatar will prop up extraction and help to generate surplus cash with oil above $100 a barrel.
The directors have “decided to initiate change in the leadership to take the upstream business forward to the next stage of its growth and development,” French said by phone.
Shell today announced a $1.6 billion plan to bid for Cove Energy Plc., which is focusing on East Africa exploration. Cove and partners have discovered as much as 30 trillion cubic feet of recoverable gas in Mozambique, which would be enough to make liquefied natural gas to supply Asia. Shell’s Qatargas 4 was the latest completed LNG plant with the company also investing in the fuel projects in Australia.
The expansion of Shell in Mozambique “may raise questions on the extent of Shell’s exposure in Australia, where it is involved in some eight projects,” said Peter Hutton, an analyst at RBC Capital Markets in London. “Such questions are likely to be given additional focus given the announcement” about the exploration leadership changes.
In 2008, Brinded was seen by analysts as a possible candidate for the top job at The Hague-based Shell. He lost to Swiss-born ex-Chief Financial Officer Peter Voser who became chief executive officer in 2009 succeeding Jeroen van der Veer.
Brinded, born in 1953, joined Shell after graduating from Cambridge University and served as the U.K. chairman in the three years to 2002, when he joined the executive board.
Brown oversaw construction of the Pearl gas-to-liquids plant also in Qatar, which makes fuels from natural gas. The world’s largest facility of its kind has enough capacity to fuel 160,000 cars a day with diesel and employed 52,000 workers at the peak of construction.