ConocoPhillips’ board of directors on Thursday elected James J. Mulva, 58, to succeed Archie W. Dunham as chairman of the board when Dunham retires at the end of September. Mulva, who had been chairman and CEO of Phillips Petroleum Co. when it merged with Conoco, will retain his president and CEO titles.

Mulva’s promotion was expected — when the two companies merged in 2002, Mulva had been named to succeed Dunham in the agreement (see Daily GPI, Sept. 3, 2002). Mulva said Dunham’s “leadership and guidance were essential to the formation of ConocoPhillips and have been significant factors in its ongoing success.” Dunham, who had been with ConocoPhillips and its predecessor company Conoco for 40 years, also elected to retire from the board.

“I have often given interviews and speeches on the importance of former chairmen and CEOs not continuing their board service after retirement in the interest of good governance,” Dunham said. He said Mulva’s promotion had “ensured strong leadership” for the company’s future.

Mulva began his career with Phillips in 1973, and slowly rose through the ranks. Mulva was named a senior vice president in 1993 and CFO in 1990, at which time he joined the company’s management committee. He was named Phillips’ president and COO in May 1994 and executive vice president in January 1994. From 1999 to 2002, when it merged with Conoco, Mulva served as chairman and CEO of Phillips. In 2002, Mulva was named “Petroleum Executive of the Year” in recognition of the aggressive steps he took to grow and position Phillips “to compete long-term in an increasingly difficult business environment.”

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