Scott Sheffield, chief executive of Pioneer Natural Resources, is set to retire at the end of the year.
Pioneer recently made the news with a report from Wall Street Journal that said Exxon was considering a takeover bid for the company. Reuters now notes that the news about Sheffield could reignite such talk, which appears to be a regular occurrence on Wall Street.
The news outlet reported earlier this month Exxon was in informal talks with Pioneer to acquire it in order to boost its position in the U.S. shale patch. It has said for years that the Permian basin would be its key priority area for investments and growing production in the coming years.
Pioneer has in recent years climbed to the top in the shale patch through organic growth and acquisitions, the most recent of Parsley Energy in 2020 and of DoublePoint Energy a year later.
The Financial Times recalls that Scott Sheffield already retired once, in 2016, but three years later returned to take the helm of the company. It was during this time that Sheffield steered Pioneer to the new business model that has quickly gained popularity in the oil industry.
The model focuses on shareholders and capital discipline, and it has helped U.S. oil drillers weather the effects of the pandemic on their performance and, more recently, maximize shareholder returns from oil price jumps.
The Pioneer chief executive has also been among the louder voices of caution about the future prospects of U.S. shale. Sheffield has not shied away from talking about lower-than-expected well productivity and the shrinking of top drilling spots, while others touted shale’s still massive untapped potential.
Sheffield will be succeeded by Richard Dealy, who is currently chief operating officer of the shale industry major, the company said.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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