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Shell Said to Name Pickard Head of Arctic Region Operations

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April 30 (Bloomberg) -- Royal Dutch Shell Plc, 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 the company’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 business in Australia, will replace Pickard, 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 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.

Floating LNG

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.

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.’s Gorgon LNG venture and Woodside Petroleum Ltd.’s proposed Browse project.

Pickard said earlier this month that the company’s floating LNG technology is “the fastest, most economic and the best technical solution available for Browse.”

Woodside, Australia’s second-largest oil producer, said today that it reached an agreement with Shell on how to develop Browse if the partners in the venture select floating LNG. Woodside abandoned a plan earlier this month to build an onshore LNG project that was estimated to cost $45 billion.

Shell is seeking a buyer for its Geelong refinery in Victoria state to concentrate on large-scale sites such as its Pulau Bukom plant in Singapore, exiting oil processing in Australia, the company said earlier this month. Shell is looking to complete a deal by the end of 2014, Smith said at the time.

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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