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Shell’s top Arctic exec is retiring, will join KBR board

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Posted on November 10, 2015 | By Joshua Cain

After Royal Dutch Shell scuttled its $7 billion Arctic drilling program in September, the company’s top executive on the project is moving on.

Ann Pickard, Shell’s executive vice president in the Arctic, will retire from the company in February 2016, Shell spokeswoman Kelly op de Weegh said Tuesday.

She will also join the board at Houston-based engineering and construction giant KBR Inc. in December, the company said on Tuesday.

Pickard was appointed to the Arctic after Shell’s program there foundered in 2012, when the rig the company contracted for the job, the Kulluk, crashed into an Alaskan island.

Shell ended its second attempt in the Arctic on Sept. 28 after the exploratory well it drilled in Alaskan waters of the Chukchi Sea failed to find significant amounts of oil and gas.

Pickard’s 15-year stint at Shell included stops in Nigeria and Australia. Before Shell, she worked for Mobil for 11 years before the company’s merger with Exxon.

Shell noted in a statement that Pickard’s tenure in the Arctic marked the first time a company drilled a well offshore Alaska in more than two decades. The last time this was attempted was in the early 1980s, when a consortium of companies drilled a well just a few hundred miles from Shell’s most recent project, only to come up dry.

KBR Chairman Loren Carroll in a statement called Pickard a “qualified executive” who he believed would “make an immediate and positive impact to our Board.”

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