Stephen Chazen

Stephen Chazen, who rose to the top of Occidental Petroleum and then started and ran a Texas shale-oil producer after retiring, died at the age of 76 after an illness.

Magnolia Oil & Gas had announced two days earlier that Chazen had stepped down as chairman, president, and CEO due to serious health issues.

Who is Stephen Chazen

Chazen was chief executive and chairman of Houston-based Magnolia Oil and Gas Corp, which he helped start in 2017 after leaving Occidental and ran until this week.

Chazen, who early in his career was a finance executive, acquired shale properties and pledged to put cash flow above production.

Stephen Chazen

Magnolia, which announced his death on Friday, had announced two days earlier that Chazen was stepping down as chairman and CEO due to “serious health reasons.”

He had a long career at Occidental, which he joined in 1994 and rose through the finance ranks to become CEO. He aided the career of Occidental’s current CEO, Vicki Hollub. Chazen returned to Occidental as a director in 2019.

“Steve played a significant role in transforming Oxy into a focused global energy leader over the past 30 years, serving as chief financial officer, CEO and most recently as independent board chairman,” Hollub said in a statement.

“He was the type of businessman who didn’t follow trends, but rather established trends,” said Christopher Stavos, who took over this week as Magnolia CEO. “Steve had a profound impact on how E&P companies are managed with an objective of creating long-lasting shareholder value.”

Magnolia was founded in 2017 as a “blank check” company by investors who trusted Chazen’s reputation and track record.

Chazen used the investors’ funds to acquire shale oil and gas properties in South Texas’ Eagle Ford shale region.

Stephen Chazen

He built the company with the goal of generating cash in excess of capital investment and achieving modest production growth.

That formula – strong cash flow from single-digit volume growth – was unusual at the time, but it is now widely used by other US shale oil producers.

Chazen was “the single most important oil man of his generation,” said Paul Sankey, a long-time oil equity analyst, who said Chazen combined “unwavering clarity of viewpoint, iconoclasm, and enormous humour.”

Hollub said, “We cared for him deeply and our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, family and friends.”