Chief executive Ben van Beurden is preparing to step down from Shell next year and the oil and gas supermajor has started a selection process for a successor, Reuters reported on Friday, quoting two sources at the company.

Dutchman van Beurden, 64, became CEO at Shell in 2014, and has steered the supermajor through two major oil price routs and industry downturns, as well as the recent move of the company’s headquarters and tax residence from the Netherlands to the UK.

In recent months, Shell has dropped ‘Royal Dutch’ from its name as it moved its tax residence to the UK from the Netherlands and made its share structure simpler for investors to value and understand. The supermajor has also accelerated investments in renewable energy and other clean energy solutions, including hydrogen.

Before becoming CEO in 2014, van Beurden was head of downstream at Shell, which he had joined in 1983.

According to Reuters’ sources, Shell has shortlisted four potential candidates to succeed van Beurden. These include Wael Sawan, currently Integrated Gas, Renewables and Energy Solutions Director at Shell; Huibert Vigeveno, Shell’s Downstream Director, Shell’s chief financial officer Sinead Gorman; and Shell’s Upstream Director Zoe Yujnovich.

Sawan is the front-runner to succeed van Beurden, although Shell’s board succession committee, which should pick the next CEO, hasn’t made any decision yet, one of the sources told Reuters.

Whoever the next CEO is, they will have to manage the company through the energy transition and will likely feel even more pressure than van Beurden to speed up emissions reductions and targets at Shell, while keeping shareholders happy with dividend growth.

Most recently, Shell reported another record in quarterly earnings – its second record-setting quarter in a row – as oil and gas prices surged and refining margins spiked. Following the record results, Shell announced a share buyback program of $6 billion, which is expected to be completed by the third-quarter 2022 results announcement.

“With the current energy sector outlook and subject to Board approval, shareholder distributions are expected to remain in excess of 30% of cash flow from operating activities,” Shell said at the end of July.

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