Clarence P. Cazalot Jr., the majordomo of Marathon Oil Corp. for almost 14 years and a 41-year industry veteran, said Thursday he will retire at the end of the year.

Lee M. Tillman, 51, who most recently was vice president of engineering for ExxonMobil Corp.’s development company, was elected by the board to succeed Cazalot as president and CEO effective Aug. 1. Lead director Dennis H. Reilley would be nominated as nonexecutive chair once Cazalot retires.

At ExxonMobil Development Co., Tillman had overseen a global engineering staff that worked on “major project concept selection, front-end design and engineering. He began his career at a predecessor Exxon company in 1989 as a research engineer and has operations experience in the United States and overseas. In 2003 he became an upstream adviser to the management committee and two years later, he was appointed offshore division manager of ExxonMobil Upstream Research Co. Tillman also served as North Sea production manager and lead country manager in Norway from 2007 to 2010.

Tillman’s “strong leadership skills and extensive experience in global operations, project execution and leading edge technology will be invaluable in confronting the challenges facing our company and industry,” said Cazalot. “I look forward to working with Lee…over the next six months as we transition to his leadership and continue to execute on our well defined strategy.”

Among other things, Cazalot, 62, led the company’s restructuring in 2011 to become a pure-play exploration and production company after spinning off the downstream business into Marathon Petroleum Corp. (see Daily GPI, July 1, 2011).

“The progress Marathon Oil has made moving from an integrated company to an independent exploration and production company over the past two years has been nothing short of exceptional,” Tillman said. “The combined efforts of a dynamic board, focused management and dedicated global employees have yielded Marathon Oil’s differentiating performance and strong growth outlook.”

Cazalot graduated from Louisiana State University in 1972 with a bachelor of science degree in geology and joined Texaco Inc. that year as a geophysicist. In 1992, he became vice president of Texaco Inc. and president of the Latin America/West Africa division. Two years later Cazalot was named president of Texaco Exploration and Production Inc., and more promotions followed. By 1999, he was president of Texaco’s worldwide operations. Texaco was acquired by Chevron Corp. in late 2000 (see Daily GPI, Oct. 17, 2000).

Before the Chevron merger, in March 2000, Cazalot joined USX Corp. as vice chairman and was named president of Marathon Oil Corp. One of his first deals was late that year, when he put together a $500 million transaction to acquire Pennaco Energy Inc., which explored for coalbed methane gas in the Powder River Basin (see Daily GPI, Dec. 27, 2000).

When USX’s steel and energy businesses were separated in January 2002, Cazalot was named president and CEO (see Daily GPI, Aug. 1, 2001). In July 2011, Cazalot was elected chairman. The company has suffered through a series of upturns and downturns. However, a decision to trim overseas holdings and return more money to the U.S. onshore has boosted its prospects, particularly in the Eagle Ford Shale. Cazalot had said in February the Eagle Ford was on track to represent 40% of Marathon’s production this year, up from 18% in 2012. Marathon’s upstream activity in 2011 rose 7% year/year, in large part to the South Texas play (see Daily GPI, Feb. 2, 2012). Proved reserves at the end of 2012 were estimated at 2 billion boe in North America, Europe and Africa.

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