Chevron chief executive officer John Watson will step down, according to The Wall Street Journal, with an official announcement expected next month. Unnamed sources told the Journal a successor to Watson is yet to be finalized by Chevron's board and could change.
Michael Wirth — Chevron's vice chairman and an oil refining specialist — is the top pick to replace Watson, according to the report. Board members at Chevron see Wirth as having the necessary experience to cut costs at large processing plants, the Journal reported. The company's directors are seeking a chief executive who will streamline Chevron's operations in the current, comparatively low-priced oil market.
"We cannot confirm the Journal's reporting. As a practice, we do not comment on rumor or speculation," a Chevron spokesperson told CNBC.
Shares of Chevron popped as high as $106.92 on the news, before trading up 0.5 percent to $106.25.
Chevron shares intraday
The U.S. energy and chemicals giant reported better-than-expected second-quarter earnings on July 28, which Watson at the time said was "improved substantially from a year ago." Chevron earned $1.2 billion and generated $34.48 billion in revenue in the most recent quarter, while more than doubling the cash flow generated by its operations to $8.9 billion.
Chevron's board of directors named Watson as CEO on Sept. 30, 2009, and he took the reins on Dec. 31 of that year. Watson became CEO after 29 years with the company, first starting as a financial analyst in 1980. During his tenure Chevron's stock price has risen 39 percent, according to FactSet.
Read more from The Wall Street Journal.