Exxon Mobil CEO says not trying to acquire Hess

By Thomson Reuters Mar 18, 2024 | 9:01 AM

By Sabrina Valle

HOUSTON (Reuters) – Exxon Mobil CEO Darren Woods on Monday said his company is trying to secure preemption rights over Hess Corp’s Guyana assets in its dispute with Chevron, not buy the company itself.

In his first public remarks on the company’s pursuit of an arbitration case that could block Chevron’s $53 billion deal for Hess, Woods said Exxon would not have waited for Chevron to announce its Hess deal if it had wanted to buy Hess.

“We’re basically standing up for what we believe is a fundamental right,” Woods told Reuters. Exxon is trying to “secure and confirm the rights in that contract gives the existing partners.”

Exxon wants to “evaluate that value and do what is in the best interest of Exxon Mobil shareholders, given the investments that we’ve made and all the work we’ve done to make that successful.”

Earlier this month, Exxon filed a contract arbitration claim over Hess’ proposed sale of its Guyana oil properties, a move that left open the prospect of an Exxon counterbid.

The arbitration case seeks to preserve Exxon’s right to determine the value of Hess’ 30% stake in the giant Stabroek offshore oil block.

Hess and Chevron have said they disagree with Exxon’s interpretation of the joint operating agreement that governs the Exxon, Hess and CNOOC Ltd consortium responsible for all of Guyana’s oil production.

Chevron’s acquisition of Hess has been stalled by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission’s request for additional information on the merger. That request pushed back any closing to at least the middle of this year.

(Reporting by Sabrina Valle)