Occidental Petroleum Corp. (Oxy) Chairman Ray Irani on Friday withdrew as a nominee to serve another term on the board of directors, and he was a no-show for the company’s annual meeting in Santa Monica, CA, Oxy said.

Edward Djerejian, a board member since 1996 and a former U.S. diplomat and a former assistant secretary of State, was elected independent chairman. Board member Spencer Abraham, former secretary of Energy under President George W. Bush, was elected independent vice chairman.

Irani, 78, had been at Oxy since 1978, taking over as chairman and CEO in 1990 after founder Armand Hammer died. Irani, who had planned to retire in 2014, had turned over the CEO post two years ago to Steve Chazen, 66. Chazen had served in the executive suite since 1994 alongside Irani.

However, earlier this year Irani had attempted to oust Chazen, which led to criticism by major shareholders. Influential advisory firm ISS had reaffirmed its recommendation for shareholders to vote against Irani and against a lavish executive compensation plan, an issue in which Irani in the past had been faulted.

Days ago, the board said Chazen would remain CEO through 2014 “with full board support” (see Daily GPI, May 1). Chazen said then he planned to ask Irani for “advice and counsel.” The board also had outlined several corporate governance decisions, including a policy to have an independent chair, a position that would be rotated every five years. In addition, the mandatory retirement age for CEOs now is 68.

Chazen led Oxy to record U.S. production in the first three months of this year, to 478,000 boe/d on strong output in California, the Permian Basin and the Bakken Shale (see Daily GPI, April 29).

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