After seven years as CEO of Chevron, John Watson is reportedly planning to step down as the oil company seeks a new head honcho, according to the Wall Street Journal, citing people close to the matter.
While the San Ramon, California-based energy producer has not made a final decision on a successor, Michael Wirth, a 56-year-old Chevron lifer whose inevitable promotion has been predicted as far back as January of this year when the company announced his promotion to Vice Chairman, is seen as a real frontrunner candidate for Watson’s position. An announcement is likely to be made next month.
John Watson, 60, was named CEO after he oversaw the integration of Texaco and Unocal which became Chevron. They were purchased by his acquisitive predecessor and mentor, David O’Reilly. Since the global oil rout began in earnest in 2014, however, John Watson has struggled to protect dividend payouts from the ravages of tumbling crude prices and shrinking cash flow.
Part of the downfall includes recent moves by automobile companies to move away from crude oil and fossil fuels including Volvo’s recent announcement of plans to go completely electric by 2019. Exxon’s recent acquisition of non-fossil fuel based energy sources follow Saudi Arabia’s plans to diversify its international exports from oil.
If these predictions hold true, Michael Wirth will have several big decisions ahead of him to combat the changing trends of auto and energy companies to go green. This is likely a sentiment that Al Gore appreciates.
The shift comes as Chevron expands its presence in Mexico, per an announcement by the company last Thursday. Looking at the trends it appears to be a greater investment in the long run as opposed to the planned additional gas stations being built in Sonora, Sinaloa, Baja California, and Baja California Sur.
As the Green revolution rolls slowly forward, Chevron’s new leadership will have quite the decisions ahead of them.