Schlumberger is pumping as its chairman an executive who earned a status for building shale producers that bypass oil service firms.
Mark Papa, 72, who will take over as chairman of the world’s largest oilfield service supplier next month, helped give beginning to the U.S. shale growth a decade in the past by building Enron Corp. castoff EOG Resources Inc. into one of the nation’s most prodigious explorers. He’s now working Centennial Resource Development Inc.
In his new role, Papa will assist Schlumberger’s next chief executive officer, Olivier Le Peuch, deal with an industry downturn as investors pressure producers to rein in spending and return money to shareholders. Le Peuch, 55, and Papa will exchange Paal Kibsgaard, 51, who’s stepping down as chairman and CEO.
A key Papa trademark is bypassing technology from the oilfield services, opting as a substitute for in-home innovations. It’s what led Paul Sankey, then an analyst at Wolfe Research, to dub EOG under Papa’s watch the “APPL of oil,” referring to the trading symbol for Apple Inc. Papa did that again at Centennial, hiring key former EOG executives to assist make technology one of many pillars of his new company.
“It wasn’t the service corporations that offered the advances in shale technology,” Papa stated with a chuckle in a 2017 interview. “They’re advertising that stuff and saying it was them, but it wasn’t the service corporations that supplied the technological breakthroughs.”
Papa has encountered some roadblocks at Centennial, the blank-check firm he founded after retiring from EOG in 2013. Shares of the explorer have plunged 46% this year as it joins different producers in trimming spending amid volatile oil prices.