Lee R. Raymond

Exxon Mobil Corp.

Editor's note: This profile is part of Hart Energy's 50th anniversary Hall of Fame series honoring industry pioneers of the past 50 years and the Agents of Change (ACEs) who are leading the energy sector into the future.

Lee R. Raymond

Lee Raymond spent 42 years in the oil patch in a variety of roles, but his legacy will always be tied to the transformational 1999 merger that joined Exxon and Mobil, creating Exxon Mobil.

“Lee Raymond started an institution that became an American economic cornerstone,” Wood Mackenzie – Genscape sales director Carl Larry told Hart Energy. 

The merger, which added $1.2 billion in net earnings in the first year, resulted in what is still the largest U.S. oil and gas company. Exxon Mobil’s $439 billion market value is only surpassed among oil companies globally by Saudi Arabia’s Saudi Aramco’s $2.06 triillion, according to the Forbes Global 2000 List 2023: Top 200, using data through May 2023.

When compared to Exxon Mobil’s direct European peers, it takes three of them combined to surpass the Irving, Texas-based company’s market value: UK’s Shell ($206 billion), France’s TotalEnergies ($152 billion) and UK’s BP ($108 billion).

Today, Exxon Mobil maintains a strong presence in the U.S. in addition to its global operations that span from Argentina and Guyana in Latin America to Canada, Europe, Asia Pacific, Africa, Caspian and the Middle East.

Lee Raymond received the Woodrow Wilson Award for corporate citizenship in 2003. (Source: Hart Energy archives)

“The merger was intended to allow Exxon Mobil to compete more effectively with the recently combined multinational oil companies and the very large state oil companies who [were] rapidly expanding outside their home base both geographically and functionally,” Raymond said in 1999.

Raymond was Exxon’s chairman and CEO prior to the merger. He assumed the same roles under the newly created company.

A native of Watertown, S.D., Raymond graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 1960 with a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering. He later received a Ph.D. in the same discipline from the University of Minnesota in 1963, the same year he joined Exxon. 

Raymond started as a production research engineer but went on to hold positions with Creole Petroleum, Exxon’s operating affiliate in Venezuela before those facilities were nationalized; the former Exxon International, which was responsible for Exxon’s international supply and transportation of petroleum products and crude oil; and Lago Oil & Transport Co., the Exxon affiliate in Aruba.

He rose to become president of Exxon Nuclear Co. in 1979, and was appointed executive vice president of Exxon Enterprises. In 1983, Raymond was named president and director of Esso Inter-America, with responsibilities for Exxon’s operations in the Caribbean, Central and South America. In 1984, he was appointed as a senior vice president and elected to Exxon’s board of directors. In 1987, he became president of the company.

Immediately after leaving Exxon Mobil in 2005, Raymond dedicated his time to JP MorganChase & Co. as a director before retiring in 2020. 

—Pietro D. Pitts, International Managing Editor

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