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Shell Scuttles Separate Unconventional Arm; Odum Stepping Down

Royal Dutch Shell plc, which less than four months ago launched an unconventional natural gas and oil resources arm to build its expertise, has decided to roll the business back into upstream operations. U.S. operations chief Marvin Odum, who oversees the unconventional unit, also is stepping down.

The global upstream organization headed by Director Andy Brown would take over management of unconventional resources. The Canadian Athabasca Oil Sands Project and the Scotford Upgrader, part of the unconventional arm, would be moved into the global downstream organization under Director John Abbott.

"As a result of these changes, the Unconventional Resources Directorate will cease to exist," management said.

Brown and Abbott are based in Europe, where Shell is headquartered.

Last November CEO Ben van Beurden said Shell was simplifying its business and would revamp upstream operations by splitting the conventional and unconventional units (see Daily GPINov. 3, 2015). Shell also created a standalone business to trade and market natural gas worldwide.

No details were offered as to why Shell was backtracking. It recently completed its takeover of BG Group plc, which had extensive natural gas and unconventional resources in its portfolio.

Odum, who is based in Houston, joined Shell in 1982, and since 2008 has been U.S. country chair and president of Shell Oil Co. He joined Shell's executive committee as Upstream Americas director in 2009.

"Marvin has had a long and distinguished Shell career, and I'm grateful to him for the central role he's played in the company's success," van Beurden said. "He leaves our important businesses in the Americas well positioned for the next phase of their development."

Bruce Culpepper, currently executive vice president of human resources, unconventional resources and regional cooperation, is replacing Odum effective April 1 as U.S. country chair and president of Shell Oil. Culpepper is a U.S. citizen who also has worked for Shell for 34 years.

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