Peter Klinger, 11 November 2015

Ann Pickard, once dubbed the “bravest woman in oil and gas” before she transformed Royal Dutch Shell’s century old presence in Australia, has quit the Anglo-Dutch giant.

However, the decision to retire from Shell will not spell the end of her exposure to oil and gas, and LNG in particular which she championed during her stint as the Anglo Dutch giant’s Australia country chair.

Ms Pickard is joining the board of oil and gas engineering contractor KBR as a non-executive director from next month.

The appointment was announced in Houston last night and is expected to be the first of several part-time board roles for Ms Pickard.

“Ann is a distinguished and incredibly qualified executive, and I am confident she will make an immediate and positive impact to our board,” Loren Carroll, the chairman of the $US2.7 billion ($3.9 billion) valued KBR, said.

Ms Pickard, a one-time Mobil executive, announced her retirement as Shell executive vice president, Arctic, last week to end a 15-year stint with the Anglo-Dutch giant that saw her earn a reputation as a company fixer.

She arrived in Perth in 2010 from Angola to take up the country chair role and transform Shell’s position in Australia from passive investor to operator.

It culminated in the Shell go-ahead for the Prelude floating LNG operation and the exit from its minority position in the Chevron-led Wheatstone LNG project. Ms Pickard also had oversight of Shell’s 25 per cent stake in Chevron’s Gorgon venture and made sure Shell was a key advocate for the Woodside Petroleum-run Browse LNG venture to abandon onshore gas processing, in favour of FLNG.

During her time in Australia Ms Pickard, a close friend of former Woodside boss Don Voelte, also emerged as a champion of women in business, joining the board of the then-Gail Kelly run Westpac and becoming a mentor to others.

She remains a member of Chief Executive Women, the group whose president is Diane Smith-Gander.

Two years ago Ms Pickard was charged with taking on Shell’s politically sensitive Arctic exploration program, which faced enormous public opposition following earlier company missteps.

Shell decided last month to kill off its Arctic push, in part because an expensive well failed to discover hydrocarbons.

Ms Pickard, who moved to Houston to take up her Arctic role, is expected to move with her family to California from where she is likely to seek other board roles.

Extracted in full from The West Australian.