David F. Smith, executive chairman of National Fuel Gas Co., is retiring effective April 1. He would continue to serve as chairman of the board. Smith joined National Fuel in 1978 and was CEO from February 2008 until March. Elected to the board in 2007 and named chairman in 2010, Smith during his tenure served as president of National Fuel Gas Supply Corp., National Fuel Gas Distribution Corp., Empire Pipeline Inc. and National Fuel Resources Inc. "During his five years as CEO, Dave established the current course of the company, focusing attention and significant resources on development in the Marcellus Shale as Seneca Resources Corp.'s total production nearly tripled and the company's pipeline business commenced a historic, transformational realignment," said CEO Ron Tanski. Seneca is the exploration and production (E&P) arm of the company. The integrated Williamsville, NY-based operator has $6.2 billion in assets in E&P, gathering, utility, energy marketing, and pipeline and storage.

Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc.CEO and Vice Chairman Richard Adkerson, 66, has been awarded shares currently valued at about $36 million as compensation for canceling severance pay rights, part of a makeover in executive compensation at the company. Adkerson, CEO of the Phoenix operator since late 2003, signed an employment contract in 2008 that would have given him the right to payments of about $49 million for being fired or $60.8 million following a change of control. In June, Freeport completed a $9 billion cash/stock purchase of Plains Exploration & Production Co. and McMoRan Exploration Co. (see Daily GPI, June 4; Dec. 6, 2012). Plains chief Jim Flores was named vice chairman, part of an "office of the chairman" to include Adkerson and Chairman Jim Bob Moffett. Freeport has been revising its compensation policies following criticism by shareholders, which twice have rejected executive pay practices on nonbinding votes. The "say on pay" vote was rejected by 71% this year.

Los Angeles-based Occidental Petroleum Corp. (Oxy) said it is paying a $14 million lump sum to former chairman and CEO Ray Irani as part of a $26 million settlement following his ouster earlier this year from chairing the Oxy board. After a 30-year stint at the mid-major oil/natural gas company, Irani, 78, was pushed out of his chairman role in May (see Daily GPI, May 6). Occidental said in a regulatory filing that Irani will get lifetime security and financial planning services estimated at up to $1.3 million annually. The former executive was paid an average of $90 million annually in total compensation during the past 11 years, according to a calculation by the Los Angeles Times. Initial comments from Wall Street analysts characterized the exit package for the former executive as excessive.