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World’s top oil trader retiring from Shell

World’s top oil trader retiring from Shell

Javier Blas and Laura Hurst, Bloomberg News: 9 Dec 2020

Royal Dutch Shell Plc is shaking up its mighty in-house trading unit, with the retirement of Mark Quartermain as head of crude — a job widely seen as the most powerful in the global oil-trading industry.

The Anglo-Dutch oil major used the reshuffle to promote at least three women to top positions in trading, a rarity for an industry still dominated by men.

Quartermain will retire in the summer of 2021, less than four years after taking the job, having led the team through one of the most turbulent and profitable periods in history. He will be replaced by Stacie Pitts, who becomes the most influential woman in the oil-trading business.

Shell also promoted Alice Acuna as the new head of liquefied natural gas trading, and Karrie Trauth as chief of shipping. The moves mean that three of the most important business lines of the Shell trading unit are now headed by women.

The moves were outlined in memos seen by Bloomberg News. Shell confirmed Quartermain’s exit and his successor, but declined to comment on the other changes.

Lucrative Bets

The secretive oil-trading unit saved the company from a plunge in prices earlier this year by making bets that delivered hundreds of millions of dollars while the rest of the business struggled. Jessica Uhl, Shell’s chief financial officer, said the unit’s second quarter was its “best on record.”

“It was a really outstanding performance,” Uhl said.

Pitts, who now leads the gasoline team at Shell, will handle a trading book that buys and sells about 8 million barrels of oil a day — enough to meet the demand of Germany, the U.K., Italy, France and Spain together and easily outstripping its rivals.

Although better known for its oil fields, refineries and filling stations, Shell runs a large in-house trading business that dwarfs the better-known independent commodity trading houses.

Pitts will report to Andrew Smith, as her successor did, who runs the global trading and supply unit at Shell.

Quartermain only took over as global head of crude trading in 2017 replacing Mike Muller, who retired from Shell and later joined Vitol Group.


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