Pioneer boss Scott Sheffield to retire from US shale group at end of 2023


Scott Sheffield, one of the US oil business’s most vibrant and longstanding leaders, will retire as head of shale big Pioneer Natural Resources.

Sheffield based Pioneer in 1997 and oversaw its transformation into the most important crude producer in Texas. He will stay at the helm till the end of this 12 months, when Richard Dealy, at present chief working officer, will succeed him.

“It’s time for me to go back into a second retirement,” Sheffield informed the Financial Times in an interview, referring to his preliminary departure from operating the corporate in 2016 earlier than returning to the helm three years later.

“Most people knew that I wasn’t coming back forever, because I’ve been running the public company and its predecessor for almost 35 years as CEO.”

Sheffield’s tenure has spanned some of the US oil sector’s most tumultuous years, together with two Opec value wars as Saudi Arabia tried to bankrupt the prolific US shale patch — whose fast development over the previous decade upended the worldwide power order — and a crash in crude costs to under zero in 2020. And it has come because the sector contends with rising investor stress to handle local weather change.

The Pioneer boss has been among the many executives that responded to Wall Street stress lately by executing an working mannequin designed to win again traders who had fled an business wracking up colossal money owed even whereas attaining spectacular manufacturing development.

The shift concerned Pioneer and different publicly listed oil teams decreasing capital spending and scaling again drilling plans, whereas handing money again to traders within the kind of dividends and buyback schemes.

For Pioneer, it marked a change of path for a corporation as soon as labelled by hedge fund boss David Einhorn because the business’s “mother-fracker” for its need to improve hydraulic fracturing in a quest for development.

Dealy, a 30-year veteran at Pioneer, will take over as chief govt from January. “I really don’t see any changes,” Dealy stated in an interview. “I think the strategy that we put in place is working well.” Sheffield will stay on the corporate’s board.

A surge in oil costs since economies all over the world reopened in 2021 after the peak of the pandemic has mixed with the restrained spending mannequin to set off a money windfall for the sector.

Last 12 months, Pioneer reported document web revenue of $7.8bn as Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine fuelled one other surge in oil and gasoline costs. Free money movement, an important business metric, was additionally a document, at $8.4bn. The firm returned $8bn to shareholders.

The money haul marks a dramatic change from 2020, when an oil value crash compelled shale operators to idle rigs, fireplace staff and rip up spending plans. Sheffield was amongst oil bosses who known as for US operators to curb manufacturing in a bid to prop up costs.

Pioneer took benefit of the sector’s trauma to purchase rival Permian producers Parsley Energy — based by Sheffield’s son, Bryan — and personal operator Double Point Energy in 2021 in offers value a mixed $11bn.

The acquisitions made Pioneer the most important oil producer in Texas. Its market capitalisation has elevated from about $13bn in late 2020 to greater than $52bn at present.

Sheffield stated the brand new mannequin meant the shale sector might climate a recession or any additional try by Saudi Arabia to push down costs.

“The balance sheets are better than I’ve ever seen them,” he stated. “Companies can survive it more than they ever have. The shale patch and services industry in general is more resilient than it ever has been to shocks.”

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