Stephen Chazen, the former chief executive of Magnolia Oil & Gas Corp., has passed away, the independent exploration and production company (E&P) said Friday.

Chazen, who led the company since its inception four years ago, stepped down from his position only two days prior to his death, citing serious health reasons.

“We are greatly saddened by Steve’s passing, and extend our thoughts and sympathies to his family,” said recently appointed CEO Chris Stavros. “As Magnolia’s founder, Steve has left an indelible mark on the company, the oil and gas industry and the greater Houston community.”

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Stavros praised Chazen’s “profound impact on how E&P companies are managed with an objective of creating long-lasting shareholder value. He was the type of businessman who didn’t follow trends, but rather established trends. Steve always had a great affinity for investors and enjoyed interacting with them.”

On Magnolia’s second quarter earnings call with investors, Chazen lauded his company’s tried-and-true business model. “We have consistently executed our strategy, which prioritizes disciplined capital spending, moderate and steady production growth, generating high pre-tax margins and significant free cash flow, while maintaining low levels of debt.”

Stavros said Chazen’s professional accomplishments “are exceeded only by his humanitarianism and philanthropic generosity that has touched the lives of countless individuals. He spent much of his non-business-related time focusing on areas he cared deeply for including education, health care and the environment. As much as Steve was a wonderful leader, he was an even greater person.”

Prior to founding Magnolia, Chazen led Occidental Petroleum Corp. (Oxy) from 2011 until his retirement in 2016. He served in several other roles at the company dating back to 1994. In 2020, Chazen was elected chairman of Oxy’s board of directors.

Oxy CEO Vicki Hollub, who took over the company following Chazen’s retirement, said, “We are saddened by the passing of Steve Chazen. We cared for him deeply and our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, family and friends.

“Steve played a significant role in transforming Oxy into a focused global energy leader over the past 30 years, serving as Chief Financial Officer, CEO and most recently as Independent Board Chairman.”

Jack Moore, who is the independent vice chairman of Oxy’s board, will serve as interim chairman, until the board convenes to elect a chairman, according to Hollub.

Paul Sankey, lead oil analyst at Sankey Research, tweeted that Chazen was “the single most important oil man of his generation.” He combined “huge success with uniqueness, unwavering clarity of viewpoint, iconoclasm and enormous humor.”Chazen also served on the University of Houston System Board of Regents, as a director of the Houston Methodist Institute for Academic Medicine, on the Advisory Board at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy and the U.S. National Park Foundation. He is a former Chairman of the Board of the American Petroleum Institute and the Catalina Island Conservancy.