Local business and energy experts are reacting to Wednesday’s news that Devon Energy President and CEO John Richels is retiring.
In a news release, Oklahoma City-based Devon, an independent energy company engaged in oil and gas exploration and production, stated Richels, 63, will retire July 31, and he will be succeeded by Devon COO Dave Hager, 58.
Chuck Mai, of Edmond, is spokesman for AAA Oklahoma, which provides benefits to members traveling in 130 countries on six continents.
“Devon Energy is a vital, strong and vibrant player in Oklahoma’s oil and gas industry,” Mai said. “One of its strengths has always been its big-picture view of its role in America’s energy future and how best to fulfill its corporate mission of developing inexpensive, reliable energy for all Americans.”
Mai said the recent, fully-anticipated changes in management will ensure Devon’s continued key participation as the country seeks to establish itself as energy self-sufficient in the years ahead.
Edmond City Councilman Nick Massey, chief investment officer and chief economist for Householder Group Financial Advisors, said he thinks Devon is in a position of strength nationally.
“They’re a great company with great people,” Massey said.
Massey said with the falling price of oil, energy companies including Devon are facing challenging times.
Earlier this week, AAA Oklahoma reported the possibility of $2 a gallon gasoline prices here. According to FuelGaugeReport.AAA.
com, Missouri has the nation’s least expensive gasoline today ($2.46), followed by Mississippi ($2.52), South Carolina ($2.52), Texas ($2.53) and Oklahoma ($2.54).
Last week, despite the falling price of global oil, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries elected to maintain its collective production ceiling, Mai said. However, West Texas Intermediate crude oil had its largest percentage gain in more than two years, Mai said.
In other action, Devon’s board of directors has elected Richels vice chairman of the board, effective immediately, with the intent for Richels to replace Larry Nichols, 72, as chairman upon Nichols’ retirement from the board in 2016. At that time, Nichols is expected to become chairman emeritus.
“John’s vision and leadership have delivered significant value to Devon shareholders for many years and particularly as we recently repositioned and rebalanced the company as a leading North American exploration and production company,” said Nichols, Devon’s co-founder and executive chairman. “His leadership, honesty, humility and integrity are evident on a daily basis and have helped to make Devon a valued partner, employer and neighbor in the areas where we operate.”
Richels said Hager is a strong, visionary leader who has the business expertise and industry knowledge to guide Devon as it enters the next phase of company growth.
“Dave has been instrumental in the rebalancing of our portfolio and his focus on creating shareholder value, his integrity and his many other positive attributes will serve all stakeholders well,” Richels said.
Richels joined Devon in 1998 and led Devon Canada Corporation, Devon’s Canadian subsidiary, until being elected president of Devon in 2004. In 2007, Richels joined Devon’s board of directors and was elected chief executive officer in 2010.
Immediately prior to joining Devon, Richels was chief financial officer of Canadian-based Northstar Energy Corporation. Richels has served as a director of a number of publicly traded companies and previously was managing partner of the Canadian-based national law firm Bennett Jones. Richels also served as general counsel of the XV Olympic Winter Games Organizing Committee in Calgary.
Hager has been with Devon since 2009, when he was named executive vice president of exploration and production. From 2007 until joining the company, Hager served as a member of the Devon board of directors. Hager has 35 years of experience in the oil and gas industry, having started his career in 1979 as a geophysicist with Mobil Corp., and joined Sun Oil Co. (predecessor of Oryx Energy Co.) in 1981.