Exxon Mobil Corp has lost two seasoned crude oil traders from its US energy trading group and a third is leaving its UK unit, people familiar with the matter say, in a continued exodus of the oil major’s top talent.
Last year, Exxon reversed course on expanding its oil and petroleum products business as demand for fuel plummeted during the pandemic. The company suffered a loss of $ 22.4 billion in 2020, leading to significant job and cost reductions across the company.
Veteran oil traders Michael Paradise and Adam Buller, who both joined Exxon in 2019 after long careers elsewhere, resigned last week, people said. Paul Butcher, an oil trader in Britain, plans to leave in September, another person familiar with the operation said.
Butcher was recruited in 2018 as a North Sea Crude Oil Trader and Transaction Accounting Advisor with his Leatherhead unit near London. He had previously worked for BP Plc, Glencore Plc and Vitol SA.
Exxon declined to comment on the departures, citing personnel issues.
“We are pleased with our progress over the past two years in developing our team and our capabilities,” said spokesperson Casey Norton. Exxon’s scale and reach “gives our sales teams a broad footprint and unique insights and perspectives” that can generate shareholder value.
DEPARTURES OF VETERANS
Paradise was a highly regarded crude oil trader who joined Exxon from Noble Group and was previously Director of Crude Oil Trading at Citigroup Inc and BNP Paribas. Buller joined Exxon at the end of 2019 after trading oil for Petrolama Energy Canada and Spain’s Repsol SA. Previously, he was Director of International Petroleum Trade at BG Group.
Both will join Pilot Flying J, a privately held Knoxville, Tennessee, which operates retail fueling centers in North America. It has expanded into crude marketing, fuel transportation and storage, and has its own business unit headed by a former Noble Group executive.
A spokesperson for Pilot Flying J declined to comment.
Exxon has recruited Paradise, Buller and a group of experienced traders from competitors and international oil trading companies in hopes of replicating the business success of BP and Royal Dutch Shell. He first saw expansion as a way to capitalize on his knowledge of customer demand, oil production, pipelines, and fuel transportation.
BP and Shell trading groups took advantage of last year’s market volatility to generate huge trading profits, buying oil as it fell below $ 20 a barrel last spring. They sold it at higher prices for future delivery, posting multibillion dollar profits for the year.
But Exxon pulled back from trading as the market fell and sought to preserve its capital to maintain its shareholders’ dividend while rivals cut their payouts.
Exxon has consistently avoided risk by raising most of the capital needed for speculative trades, subjecting most trades to high-level management review, and restricting some traders to working only with long-standing Exxon clients.
He then fired some staff and offered early retirement packages to others, Reuters reported. Exxon does not separately report the performance of its trading unit.
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