Abbott joined Shell straight from university in 1981 and is currently executive vice president of manufacturing. He takes on his new role on 1 October, replacing Ben van Beurden, who becomes chief executive on 1 January 2014.
Abbott takes on his new role at a challenging time for Shell. The firm’s second-quarter results missed expectations last month due to rising costs, oil theft in Nigeria and weak US shale liquid production. Profits fell 60 per cent over the quarter to $2.39bn (£1.57bn).
Shell has abandoned its 2017-18 production target of 4m barrels of oil per day but has maintained its target of $175bn-$200bn (£110.6bn-£126.4bn) of cash flow from operations for the period 2012 to 2015.
Abbott has held a variety of management positions in refining, chemicals and upstream (offshore) oil and has worked in the UK, Singapore, Thailand, the Netherlands, Canada and the US.
Van Beurden replaces Peter Voser, who announced his early retirement earlier this year to the surprise of shareholders and the industry.
Voser said he felt it was time for a lifestyle change but that he will remain “engaged in the business community through a limited number of non-executive roles outside Shell”. Both tranches of Shell’s shares ended 0.4 per cent higher, with the A shares closing at 2,072.5p and the B shares at 2,165.5p.