Noble Energy Inc. has named Brent Smolik as president and COO, effective Nov. 16, and will lead worldwide operations for the Houston independent. Operations chief Gary Willingham, who has been with Noble for 15 years, is leaving to pursue other opportunities. Smolik has more than 35 years of oil and gas experience, previously serving as chairman/CEO of EP Energy Corp. and a top executive with the former El Paso Corp. He also has been president of ConocoPhillips Canada, president of Burlington Resources Canada and chief engineer of Burlington Resources Inc. Smolik has a bachelor of science degree in petroleum engineering from Texas A&M University.