Exxon Mobil expands oil futures, products trading in Europe

By Julia Payne

LONDON (Reuters) – Exxon Mobil is injecting new cash into oil trading in Europe after a retreat on its ambitious expansion plans last year, three people with knowledge of the matter said.

Exxon slashed funding for its trading division in 2020 as part of wider cuts, leaving traders without the capital they needed to take full advantage of the volatile oil market during peak COVID-19 lockdowns.

The company’s cautious strategy during the pandemic sparked the exodus of some senior-level recruits from the previous couple of years, along with Exxon veterans, after they were restricted to routine hedging and deals.

Among the senior departures Reuters reported last year, Paul Butcher was due to leave in September but then stayed after Exxon decided to allocate more financing, the sources said, without providing further detail.

The sources said Exxon would keep its trading expansion going. Butcher is now expanding the paper market team in Exxon’s office outside London, which would see Exxon engage in speculative trade beyond hedging their own oil, they said.

Angela Cranmer moved internally to join his team in January this year, according to LinkedIn and two sources. She was previously a senior middle distillates trader, her LinkedIn profile showed. The sources added that Exxon was still looking to expand with internal and external hires.

The company also hired two refined products traders, Jon Hives and James Clements, who joined the team in Brussels in January as part of the expansion, two sources said. According to LinkedIn, Hives joined in January.

“Our active trading program continues to grow, and we’re pleased with the progress we are making,” Julie King, an Exxon spokesperson said, but declined to comment on the specific hires.

Last week, Exxon reported its biggest profit in seven years in the fourth quarter of 2021 on the back of soaring energy prices.

(Reporting by Julia Payne, additional reporting by Sabrina Valle in Houston; Editing by Tomasz Janowski)