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Exxon builds energy trading business to raise profits

June 13/ 12:30

New York. ExxonMobil, which unlike its competitors steered clear of energy trading in the past, has recently started to hire experienced traders as it aims to trade more of its products to increase profits, Reuters reported on Tuesday, citing employees, recruiters, and people familiar with the matter.

Unlike BP, Shell, or Chevron, Exxon has been limiting its trading activity because it was concerned that it would have been accused of market manipulation. But now, Exxon aims to trade more and has recently added traders and consultants for crude, fuel, and liquefied natural gas (LNG) trade, according to Reuters’ sources.

Last year, Exxon retained John Masek, a former trader at Glencore, as a consultant on gasoline trading. More recently, the U.S. supermajor has also hired former BHP Billiton trader Nelson Lee as an international crude trader, people familiar with the matter told Reuters. Trader Paul Butcher, who has worked at Glencore, Vitol, and BP, has also been retained by Exxon to consult on North Sea markets and accounting for trading transactions.

At the London and Singapore offices, Exxon has hired crude oil, oil products, and LNG specialists.

A trading house executive who knows Paul Butcher commented for Reuters: “Paul is known for being a very aggressive, old-school crude trader. Exxon would have never hired a risk taker of that scale in the old days. The fact that he is consulting them shows they are considering changes in trading very seriously.”
Apart from boosting crude and product trading, Exxon is looking to beef up risk management systems to manage trading risks, and is talking to risk-management software development companies, according to Reuters’ sources.

Earlier this year, Exxon said that it aims to more than double its earnings to $31 billion by 2025 at today’s oil prices, with an aggressive growth strategy that includes double-digit rates of return in all business segments.

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