Noble Energy CEO Davidson Announces Retirement

Chief operating officer to take over director-general duties in October.

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The platform at the Tamar offshore gas field.Credit: Albatross

Charles Davidson, the long-serving CEO of Noble Energy, the operating partner in Israel's biggest natural gas fields, will retire in another year and in the meantime give up his post to Chief Operating Officer David Stover, the Houston, Texas-based energy producer said on Tuesday.

Stover will assume the CEO's duties in October. But Davidson, who took over as Noble chief in 2000, will stay on Noble's chairman until its annual meeting in May 2015, at which time he will retire.

The lengthy transition period is a a practice that has become common in the energy sector, aimed at assuring investors confidence of a smooth and seamless transfer of power in the company, Fadel Gheit, a senior analyst with Oppenheimer & Company told The Houston Chronicle."They don't want the markets or investors to have apprehension," he said. "They're basically going to co-manage the business in the next year to show they're cut from the same cloth."

Stover, 56, joined Noble in 2002 and was appointed president and COO in April 2009. An industry veteran with 35 years of experience, he has previously worked at BP America, Vastar Resources and Atlantic Richfield.

Stover holds a bachelor's degree in petroleum and natural gas engineering from Pennsylvania State University. The company said it would formally nominate Stover, as a director at a meeting next Tuesday.

Noble, which has been operating in Israel since 1998 and is the only overseas energy company active in Israeli energy exploration and production, owns 36% in the Tamar field and 39.7% of the giant Leviathan field, two of Israel's biggest, together with the Israeli companies Delek Group and Ratio. It also owns shares in a clutch of smaller fields offshore Israel.

Noble also operates in the Denver-Julesburg Basin in northern Colorado, Pennsylvania's Marcellus shale field, the deepwater Gulf of Mexico, offshore Cyprus and offshore West Africa.

In February, Noble and its partners finalized an agreement to sell a stake in Leviathan to Australia's Woodside Petroleum, although that deal has since been delayed by disputes over tax issues with the Israeli government. The sale would reduce Nobles shares in Leviathan top 30%. 

Charles DavidsonCredit: Ofer Vaknin