Why Exxon Is Giving Its Shale Unit a Long Leash

21 Apr 2017   Shale Oil

In a matter of weeks, crews working for Exxon’s XTO Energy Inc. unit will begin erecting drilling rigs across a patch of southeast New Mexico to exploit the region’s mile-thick strata of oil-soaked rock. ExxonMobil Corp. paid almost $6 billion for the drilling rights in late February—its biggest acquisition in more than six years—but that’s where the parent company’s involvement ends: Decisions on when and how to harvest the crude fall solely on the shale experts at XTO. Exxon Chief Executive Officer Darren Woods and his top lieutenants at corporate headquarters in suburban Dallas are intentionally staying out of the way of the tightly knit phalanx of XTO engineers, physicists, and geologists leading the oil major’s advance into shale. Based largely in the Texas cities of Fort Worth and Midland, XTO’s 5,000-person staff has been exempt from many of the centralized bureaucratic and planning structures of their overlords since […]

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