Exxon's Making a Big Permian Play, and This Woman Holds the Key

Exxon Mobil's Sara Ortwein has delivered some of the energy industry's biggest engineering feats over a 38-year career. Her newest challenge: Winning in the nimble, fast-moving world of shale.Ortwein's task is as much cultural as technical. Exxon had given a long leash to the XTO shale unit she runs, freeing it from the parent company's famously exhaustive planning. Now she's moving XTO's headquarters to Exxon's Houston hub to better blend the unit's shale know-how with the oil giant's technical and management expertise.Exxon was slow to the shale revolution that wildcatters began in 2005. By buying XTO in 2010, it served notice it had arrived. And Ortwein, who started at Exxon drilling wells in East Texas, was named to lead the unit in 2016. She's one of just three women among the company's top tier of 25 executives, in an industry long dominated by men."It's a different culture for a different part of the business than a big mega-project," Ortwein said in an interview. "Bringing it on campus means we can still retain all the experience and expertise of XTO" in shale while getting "the face-to-face benefit" of Exxon's experts across disciplines.  Continue reading...

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