Royal Dutch Shell went slightly outside the norm, choosing Dutch national Ben van Beurden as its next top executive, an industry analyst said.
Van Beurden has been the head of Shell's refining and marketing divisions, The New York Times reported Tuesday.
"This will be something of a surprise to analysts who widely expected," Shell to chose Chief Financial Officer Simon Henry to replace Chief Executive Officer Peter Voser, said Capital Markets analyst Peter Hutton said.
"However, it was always clear that Shell would appoint the person it felt had the best combination of skills for the job, not necessarily the best known to the external community," Hutton said.
The Times said Henry was frequently mentioned as Voser's successor, because he is well known by investors. On the other hand, oil companies frequently tap the top executive in exploration and production to take over when a CEO retires, because that is where the bulk of profits come from for most large oil companies.
Shell's board, however, skipped over its head of exploration and production Andrew Brown and Marvin Odum, the head of Shell's business in the Americas.
Voser said he would step down to spend more time with his family, which lives in Switzerland, while most of Voser's work has been in London, the Times said.