Chevron Chief John Watson Plans to Leave Next Month

A Chevron gas pump

The transition is expected to be announced next month, although Watson's successor hasn't yet been finalized by the board and could change. The company's directors are seeking a chief executive who will streamline Chevron's operations in the current, comparatively low-cost oil market.

John Watson, who has led Chevron Corp. since 2010, is planning to step down as the oil major seeks a new chief executive officer, the Wall Street Journal said, citing people familiar with the matter.

Shares of Chevron popped as high as $106.92 on the news, before trading up 0.5 percent to $106.25. An announcement will likely be made next month, the Journal said. "As a practice, we do not comment on rumor or speculation", said Chevron spokesman Kent Robertson.

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Wirth has been with Chevron for decades - joining in 1982 - and he was promoted to vice chairman of the board of directors in January. The 60-year-old is leaving before the company's mandatory retirement age of 65 to make room for younger leaders, and according to Journal sources Watson's decision was not a surprise to the board. Wirth, who joined Chevron in 1982 as a design engineer, also is executive vice president (EVP) of midstream and development, a position he has held since past year. Chevron earned $1.2 billion and generated $34.48 billion in revenue in the most recent quarter, while more than doubling the cash flow generated by its operations to $8.9 billion.

Under his leadership, the company quit processing crude in Western Europe as that market matured and growth slowed, and sharpened its focus on expanding demand centers in East Asia and Latin America.


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