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Shell appoints former BHP boss Mackenzie as new chairman amid green push

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August Graham, PA City Reporter
·2-min read
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Oil giant Shell has chosen a former mining executive who spent more than two decades at rival BP as it seeks to carve out a path less reliant on dirty energy.

The company said Sir Andrew Mackenzie, who was chief executive of miner BHP until 2019, will fill the role later this year.

The Glaswegian was already tipped as a potential new chairman when he joined Shell’s board in October last year.

He will replace Chad Holliday, who steps down in May after six years in the role.

Mr Holliday said: “I am delighted to welcome Andrew as my successor.

“I have nothing but confidence in Shell’s bright future – the challenges of the past year only strengthened my conviction in the company as I watched colleagues across the business find strength to sustain vital energy supplies in the most exceptional circumstances.”

Shell’s ambition to become “net zero” – slashing its climate change impact to nil – by 2050 means Sir Andrew will be in charge during a period of change at the company.

A former academic with more than 50 research papers to his name, as well as a past at the British Geological Society and as a Humboldt Fellow, he entered the world of business in the early 1980s.

After joining BP in 1983, Sir Andrew spent the next 22 years with the company as part of teams that discovered oil fields in Norway and Indonesia, and later joined the oil giant’s finance team.

Leaving the oil world in 2004, he joined London-listed miner Rio Tinto, but was poached by Marius Kloppers, chief executive of rival BHP Billiton, just three years later.

BHP Billiton results
Sir Andrew Mackenzie (right) with BHP Billiton chief financial officer Graham Kerr (Mike Goldwater/BHP Billiton/PA)

In 2013, Sir Andrew replaced Mr Kloppers at the top of the Anglo-Australian miner, serving in the role until 2019.

He was in charge of the company in 2015, when disaster struck in Brazil.

An iron mine run by BHP and Brazil’s Vale had been dumping its liquid waste behind a dam. When the dam eventually burst, it released more than 40 million cubic metres of sludge, knocking down most of the village of Bento Rodrigues, killing 19 people, and destroying local wildlife.

A few days after the disaster, Sir Andrew flew out to visit the area.

He speaks five languages and last year was knighted for services to business, science and technology.