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Shell’s top gas executive, Linda Cook, resigns ahead of CEO change

Los Angeles Times

TOBY STERLING, AP Business Writer 
3:13 AM PDT, May 26, 2009
AMSTERDAM (AP) — Shell’s top gas executive and highest-ranking woman, Linda Cook, is stepping down June 1, the company said Tuesday, without giving a reason. 

Cook, 50, had sometimes been mentioned as a possible successor to Chief Executive Jeroen van der Veer, who is retiring July 1. Instead the top job went to Peter Voser, the company’s chief financial officer.

“It’s a mutual decision,” said Shell spokesman Shaun Wiggins of Cook’s departure. He said the company or Cook might elaborate further later but at the moment had nothing to add. 

Cook was a Shell employee for 29 years, joining the company in Houston when she was 21. She has a degree in petroleum engineering from the University of Kansas.

In a statement, Van der Veer thanked Cook and noted the company’s liquid natural gas capacity has risen by 60 percent since she took her job five years ago. As oil production declined in the same period, Shell’s total production is now almost equally split between gas and oil.

As part of her duties, Cook also oversaw Shell’s renewable energy arm. 

In March, she told reporters in an unusually candid discussion that the company would not make any new investments in wind or solar energy, focusing instead on biofuels.

“On wind and solar, they’re interesting, but they continue to struggle in comparison with the other investment opportunities we have in our portfolio, even with substantial subsidies,” Cook said.

She rejected criticism that the company’s investment in renewables was too small: $1.7 billion over the past 5 years, compared with $126 billion in net profit.

“We have to start somewhere,” she said. “If there aren’t investment opportunities that compete with our other projects in the billions and billions then we won’t spend the money.”

She said the company’s focus was on investments that would “get the best return for shareholders. If those were in renewables today, we’d be putting money there, we’d be happy to. But that’s just not the case.”

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1 Comment on “Shell’s top gas executive, Linda Cook, resigns ahead of CEO change”

  1. #1 Paddy Briggs
    on May 26th, 2009 at 13:28

    Cook’s departure is ego-driven. She lost out – so she walks away in a huff. But then that’s what you do when the only thing that matters is self-aggrandisement. What charecterises Shell head honchos in recent times is that it is all about self. Power, position, perks and obscenely inflated bonuses and rewards – and to hell with the business or the tradition or the history of this once great company and once respected brand. And to hell with the stakeholders as well. Suppliers, Partners, local communities, employees, pensioners and society at large are the disposable small fry in the selfish and self-centered world of Van Der Veer, Cook, Brinded and the rest.

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