Exxon Mobil breaks with past, bulks up energy to boost profit
Exxon Mobil Corp is pushing deeper into energy trading, building a global cadre of experienced traders and beefing up risk-management systems to lift profit, according to executive recruiters and people familiar with the business.
The development is a sea change for a company that has stood out from rivals by limiting its past activity out of concern it would be accused of market manipulation. Exxon now aims to trade around more of its growing energy assets to get the best prices for its products and increase earnings, according to an employee familiar with the matter.
Expanded trading could add hundreds of millions of dollars to annual earnings from its own buying and selling of crude and fuels, but also comes with problems, including higher risk. Exxon (XOM.N) expects to add 1 million barrels per day of output over the next several years as new oilfields and refinery expansions kick in, giving it more assets to trade.
Exxon last year retained John Masek, a former trader at Swiss-based Glencore, the world's second largest buyer and seller of petroleum, to consult on gasoline trading. Earlier this year, it poached four gasoline market specialists from refiner Phillips 66.
This month, Exxon hired former BHP Billiton Plc trader Nelson Lee as an international crude trader, the people familiar with the matter said. In 2014, Lee orchestrated BHP's first-ever crude exports by maintaining the lightly refined oil met criteria for an exportable product.