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Sudden departure of Shell global legal boss Peter Rees QC

Screen Shot 2013-10-01 at 07.56.54Under the headline “Exclusive” Shell legal boss Rees in Shock departure” The Lawyer reports “Shell legal director Peter Rees QC has today left the oil giant, just three years after joining the company.” The “abrupt move” was announced in an email from the new CEO Ben van Beurden and is said to have taken the legal team by surprise. 

By John Donovan

Today there is further news reinforcing the impression that Royal Dutch Shell is an unstable ship, with one surprise development after another.

Under the headline “Exclusive” Shell legal boss Rees in Shock departure” The Lawyer reports “Shell legal director Peter Rees QC has today left the oil giant, just three years after joining the company.”

The “abrupt move” was announced in an email from the new CEO Ben van Beurden and is said to have taken the legal team by surprise. Van Beurden became CEO on 1 Jan, just 10 days ago. 

The early retirement of his predecessor as CEO, Peter Voser, was sudden and unexpected. This was followed by a series of retrenchment moves in recent months, including plans to sell billions of dollars of assets, including its entire Australian petrol station network and the abandonment of a pending $12.5 billion natural gas-to-diesel conversion plant in Louisiana

If Rees was sacked, perhaps it was for allowing this website to continue to be an outlet for Shell whistleblowers putting confidential information, including insider revelations and leaked documents, into the public domain, while processing job applications, business proposals etc. meant for Shell. All extremely embarrassing for Shell’s hopelessly incompetent senior management. Maybe that is all about to change under the tenure of the new decisive CEO.

His sudden exit was confirmed in an article published on 13 Jan by Legal Week:

Extract 

In a statement, a spokesperson added: “Shell can confirm that Peter Rees is stepping down as Legal Director of the Company with effect from 10 January 2014 to pursue other interests.”

SOURCE

Comment posted on Shell Blog by “A Shell Shareholder” on Jan 11th, 2014 

Just read the latest news on your site! No idea what is happening. This must be something big, otherwise it would be massaged much more smoothly, big wheels don’t just leave. They go spend more quality time with the family…. Presumably clash of characters and then the CEO wins. It overshadows Prelude for now. And the shareprice is just going up. What will happen Monday? Never a dull moment.

Comment received from “Outsider” on Jan 13, 2014

Rees’ departure appears to suggest that BvB is headed in a new direction: people with a background in managing projects tend to be rather focussed and hard headed. Consensus is not usually a large part of their preferred process! If they have the right objectives, this approach works well. However, Shell is now operating in uncharted waters and must also deal with the legacies of the past 20 years. BvB will need all the advice he can get. My guess is that some very fundamental difference is behind the shake up, perhaps illustrated by the number of assets being sold. The behemoth that Shell has become may simply be unmanageable – the debacles in the Arctic and unconventionals are just two examples of gross failures of management. Breaking the company up into entities of a more manageable size will probably improve accountability.

1 Comment on “Sudden departure of Shell global legal boss Peter Rees QC”

  1. #1 Energy Lawyer
    on Jan 15th, 2014 at 22:30

    Rees was a litigator. An odd choice to be the GC of an energy company. They need a proper energy lawyer as a replacement.

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