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Ranking Shows Energy Execs Earn Big Bucks

Ranking Shows Energy Execs Earn Big Bucks

Archie W. Dunham, chairman and CEO of Conoco Inc., is the highest paid executive of all the energy companies either headquartered in Houston, TX, or with a significant local presence there, according an annual ranking by the Houston Chronicle that was released last week.

Dunham earns $4.6 million in annual salary and cash bonus, but after you add in long-term incentives - such as perks, option grants, and other payments - his total compensation comes to about $24.9 million. The majority of the amount is in stock options, while some is in the form of additional contributions to retirement savings plans and perks such as company cars.

Although his is a salary that most of us just dream of, Dunham wasn't the top paid executive in Houston. Rather, he came in fourth in a ranking of the 100 highest paid executives in all industries in the city. Dunham was immediately followed by Chuck Watson, chairman and CEO of Dynegy Inc., whose annual salary (plus bonus) was reported to be $5.3 million But his total compensation skyrockets to $23.2 million after all the add-ons were attached, according to Chronicle ranking.

Next in line was Kenneth Lay, chairman and CEO of Enron Corp., who grosses $5.2 million in annual salary and cash bonus. However, once the stock options, perks, and other payments are included, his annual compensation shoots up to around $21.2 million.

William Wise, president and CEO of El Paso Energy, was rated the eighth highest paid executive in the city. His annual salary and cash bonus add up to about $4 million. But when the extra add-ons are tallied - including restricted stock awards - his total compensation is $20.2 million. Wise is one of the few energy executives to receive this added perk.

Jeffrey Skilling, president and COO of Enron, finished 12th in the Chronicle ranking, earning $3.85 million in annual salary and bonus. But after factoring in stock options, perks and other payments, his compensation amounted to a tidy $$16.7 million. Listed 15th was Stephen Bergstrom, president and COO of Dynegy, raking in $14.6 million in compensation.

Of the 100 executives rated, the lowest paid energy executive was Bobby S. Shackouls, chairman and CEO of Burlington Resources, according to the Chronicle. But even though he was ranked near the bottom (at 97th), that doesn't exactly qualify him for food stamps. His annual compensation was estimated at $2.65 million after the perks, restricted stock awards, option grants and other payments were accounted for.

Susan Parker

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