Dominion Exploration and Production last week said about 200 members of its offshore business unit will begin returning to New Orleans in March. The company's announcement follows Shell Exploration & Production Co.'s news earlier this month that it will move 1,000 employees back to the Big Easy beginning in January.
Dominion E&P, a subsidiary of Dominion, was previously based at the Dominion Tower in the central business district of New Orleans, but following Hurricane Katrina, the offices were relocated to Houston. Repair to the former Dominion Tower has been slow, so the offshore business unit will occupy space at the 1250 Poydras building in the same complex. Regular business at this location will begin on a phased schedule depending upon the build-out and retrofitting of the new office space, the company said.
"We have a tremendously talented and loyal staff that has been displaced from New Orleans," said Dominion E&P CEO Duane Radtke. "In terms of what is best for our people and our company, we have decided to return the majority of our employees who worked at the Dominion Tower to their home city."
Dominion E&P also announced an immediate need for engineers, geologists and geophysicists to fill newly created positions in New Orleans. Some support functions will remain at the company's Houston headquarters, but "the offshore business unit is committed to returning more than 200 employees and their families to New Orleans," said Kevin Guilbeau, senior vice president and general manager of the offshore unit.
"The hospitality of Houston has been wonderful, but we are anxious to return home and be a part of the rebuilding process in New Orleans," Guilbeau said. "We see a great deal of value in allowing our people and our decision- making process to reside close to our offshore assets."
In related news, Dominion CEO Thomas E. Capps announced he will retire on Dec. 31. Under previously announced plans, the board elected Thomas F. Farrell II as president and CEO effective Jan. 1. Farrell is currently Dominion's president and COO. A native of Wilmington, NC, Capps joined Dominion in 1984 as executive vice president of Virginia Power, and he was named CEO in 1990. Capps will remain as non-executive chairman of the board after his retirement and also will serve as a management consultant.
"Ultimately, a company's success rests in the quality of its business plan and in the hands of its people and their drive to give each working day their best shot," said Capps. "We've been fortunate to have both. Our plan to serve a strong regional market for power and natural gas with a balanced mix of regulated and unregulated assets has yielded triple-digit total returns to our shareholders and provided a reliable and efficient service platform for millions of retail customers. Our dedicated and innovative employees are the industry's finest. In addition, we've hired and developed hands-on managers and leadership who have exhibited consistent entrepreneurial spirit. Our professional success is theirs, and their workplace legacy is ongoing."
Capps is credited with conceiving and executing the $9 billion merger that unified Dominion Resources and Pittsburgh-based Consolidated Natural Gas Co. (CNG), a buyout that closed in early 2000, and produced a company doing business under the one-word name "Dominion." After the CNG merger, Capps directed Dominion through a series of profitable acquisitions to build the company's existing service platform. Acquisitions included Louis Dreyfus, another major E&P company headquartered in Oklahoma City; Cove Point, the nation's most active liquefied natural gas import terminal in southern Maryland; the Millstone and Kewaunee nuclear power stations in Connecticut and Wisconsin respectively; and fossil-fuel merchant generation and other natural gas properties and storage facilities in the MAIN-to-Maine region.
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