[Editor’s note: This story was updated at 7:07 a.m. CST Feb. 1.]
Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM) on Jan. 31 outlined a major reorganization of its global exploration businesses aimed at reversing years of weak oil and gas output.
CEO Darren Woods, who took over the helm two years ago, has spent billions to buy production, build new pipelines and expand refineries after a series of costly misfires on deals under predecessor Rex Tillerson.
Woods, who will address Wall Street analysts on an earnings call Feb. 1 for the first time as CEO, has been pleading with investors for patience as he restructures its sprawling businesses. The Exxon Mobil veteran replaced Tillerson, who became U.S. Secretary of State in February 2017, and reorganized Exxon Mobil’s refining operations that year.
Exxon Mobil, which has spent heavily on U.S. shale and deepwater blocks in Brazil and Guyana, has posted lower output in nine of the last 10 quarters.
"I am skeptical that this decision will make any real difference in practical terms," said Pavel Molchanov, an analyst at Raymond James. He cited hurdles and a sharp drop in output in a gas field in the Netherlands that accounts for 2.5% of Exxon Mobil’s total production.
The reorganization will fold seven companies into three as of April 1, merging units for production, exploration, development, gas and power marketing, and others.
The new companies—ExxonMobil Upstream Oil & Gas Co., ExxonMobil Upstream Business Development Co. and ExxonMobil Upstream Integrated Solutions Co.—are designed to help the company double profits by 2025 and better coordinate oil and gas production with logistics and refining operations.
“We’re simplifying and integrating our upstream organization to better capitalize on the industry-leading portfolio we’ve assembled through acquisitions and exploration success in the U.S. Permian Basin, Guyana, Mozambique, Papua New Guinea and Brazil,” Neil Chapman, Exxon Mobil senior vice president, said in a statement.
Chapman continued: “Our focus is on increasing overall value by strengthening our upstream business and further integrating it with the downstream and chemical segments.”
Liam Mallon was named president of ExxonMobil Upstream Oil & Gas, Steve Greenlee president of ExxonMobil Upstream Business Development, and Linda DuCharme president of ExxonMobil Upstream Integrated Solutions.
XTO Energy, which Exxon Mobil acquired for $41 billion in 2009, will be part of Upstream Oil & Gas, a spokesman said.
One of the new business units will oversee its existing portfolio of exploration projects, and handle future acquisitions. Analysts have been pushing Exxon Mobil to sell some assets to improve returns.
Further, the company’s proven project-delivery capability will be enhanced through a single organization—ExxonMobil Global Projects Co.—which will centralize major capital project planning and execution expertise into a single organization that will support all three business segments—upstream, downstream and chemical.
Neil Duffin, currently president of ExxonMobil Production Co., will become president of the Global Projects unit.
Analysts expect Exxon Mobil to earn $1.08 per share for the fourth quarter, excluding one-time items, according to Refinitiv data.
Exxon Mobil shares rose 0.6% to $72.71 shortly before the close. They fell to $65.51 in December, a level last reached in October 2010.
Even when U.S. benchmark prices return to $45/bbl, "very few" U.S. producers would be able to afford to expand production because of high debt levels, Pioneer Natural Resources CEO Scott Sheffield says.
“If this is an act of God, maybe I need to find another career because I guess God’s had enough of the oilfield,” said oilfield services worker Nils MacArthur.
Companies with the lowest flaring intensity in Texas included Pioneer Natural Resources, EOG Resources, ConocoPhillips and Chesapeake Energy.