Sawan currently heads Shell's oil and gas production, or upstream, division. In his new position he will oversee Shell's continued expansion into low-carbon and renewable energies as well as the power markets, key pillars in Shell's strategy to reduce its emissions to net zero by 2050.
Sawan, 47, a Canadian citizen of Lebanese origin, is seen by many as a potential successor to Chief Executive Ben van Beurden along with Huibert Vigeveno, who heads Shell's refining and chemicals division.
Sawan will be replaced by Zoë Yujnovich, 46, who currently heads conventional oil and gas operations, Shell said in a statement.
Both appointments are effective Oct. 25.
Wetselaar, once himself seen as a candidate to take the top spot in the company, will become the chief executive of Spanish oil company Cepsa starting Jan. 1, 2022, Shell said.
Wetselaar oversaw in recent years Shell's growth into liquefied natural gas (LNG) and low-carbon, including investments in offshore wind, hydrogen and electric vehicle charging.
"I am also immensely grateful to Maarten for his outstanding contribution to Shell and our customers, for his vision and drive in shaping a world-class LNG portfolio, and for laying the foundations of our power and renewable solutions business," CEO van Beurden said in a statement.
Cepsa Chairman Ahmad Yahia Al Idrissi said in a statement that Wetselaar's appointment would help Cepsa speed up its energy transition strategy.
Cepsa, owned by Mubadala and Carlyle, has started making forays into renewable energy including signing a joint venture with Masdar to develop wind and solar projects in Spain and Portugal, and has built a 28.8 megawatt wind farm in southern Spain.
(Reporting by Ron Bousso and Isla Binnie; editing by Jason Neely and Susan Fenton)
By Ron Bousso