Shell always appoints its chief executives from inside, so nobody should be surprised it has done so again.
The surprise lies in the insider it has chosen: Ben van Beurden made it on to the executive committee, the level below the main board, only at the start of the year. So, in effect, he has leapt over at least three rivals who may have considered themselves senior to him.
That is probably more significant than his current status, as head of downstream operations, or refining. True, big oil companies normally look for leaders within exploration, or upstream, activities. Van Beurden, 55, has passed through most corners of Shell over 30 years, however, so is an all-rounder.
Will his disappointed colleagues stay? That's always the question after successions at multinationals. Sometimes, as at GlaxoSmithKline after the choice of Andrew Witty in 2008, the exodus happens quickly: Witty's two main rivals left within a year. Shell tends to be more stable than most. But let's see.
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