Shell Executive Stepping Down

The executive in charge of Shell’s troubled Arctic drilling program is stepping down.

David Lawrence was Shell’s vice president for North American exploration. He’s been with the company for almost 30 years. Now, a spokesman says he’s leaving “by mutual consent.”

Shell won’t say whether Lawrence’s departure has anything to do with the 2012 drilling season. But it’s only been a week since the Department of the Interior released its review of Shell’s Arctic program. Interior’s investigators said Shell wasn’t fully prepared for the logistical challenges it faced in the Arctic.

Lawrence made headlines a year ago when he told a Dow Jones reporter that drilling in the Arctic would be “relatively easy.” He said the oil Shell is pursuing in the Alaskan Arctic is located in shallow, low-pressure areas that were simpler to access than other deposits.

A Shell spokesman declined to comment on Lawrence’s departure.

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