Marathon Oil Corp. unveiled a new executive compensation structure on Jan. 27 that places a bigger emphasis on ESG performance and prioritizes profitability over growth that analysts with Enverus said are in line with investor-driven trends.
Among other changes, the plan by the U.S. shale producer lowers the CEO and board’s total compensation by 25%, introduces the S&P 500 as a benchmark in its long-term incentive plan, and eliminates production metrics, according to a research note by the firm.
“Marathon Oil has taken a leadership role in driving the changes our industry needs, prioritizing free cash flow, debt reduction, and return of capital to shareholders,” Lee Tillman, the company’s president, CEO and chairman, said in a statement on Jan. 27.
“We believe strong corporate governance is foundational to delivering ultimate shareholder value, and have modified our executive compensation framework to further align management interests with stakeholders and to incentivize the behaviors we believe are most important,” Tillman continued.
Marathon also added in greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction targets to its short-term incentive plan. The Houston-based independent E&P company is now targeting a drop in its GHG emissions intensity of 30% from 2019 levels in 2021 and 50% come 2025.
Tillman described the emissions reduction goal as ambitious but noted it will build off the momentum Marathon already established in 2020.
“We believe oil and gas will be an essential contributor to the transition to a lower carbon future and it is imperative that the company and our industry address the dual challenge of meeting the world’s growing energy demand while also responding to the risk of climate change,” he said.
Marathon is active in oil-rich resource plays, such as the Eagle Ford in Texas, the Bakken in North Dakota, the STACK and SCOOP in Oklahoma, and the Permian Basin in New Mexico.
In the U.S., Marathon’s production averaged 297,000 net boe/d for third-quarter 2020. The company also raised its full year U.S. oil-equivalent production guidance by 5,000 net boe/d at the midpoint to between 300,000 and 310,000 boe/d for 2020.
Marathon also has international operations in Equatorial Guinea, where the company averaged 73,000 net boe/d of production for third-quarter 2020, including 13,000 net bbl/d of oil.
Analysts at Cowen & Co. boosted their earnings estimates for Apache due to better-realized pricing, notably in gas that “reflect greater exposure to daily pricing versus bid week.”
The appointment of Tiffany “TJ” Thom Cepak as board chairman replaces Mark A. “Mac” McFarland, who was named as permanent president and CEO of California Resources last month.
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