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FTC Approves Exxon Mobil’s Acquisition of Pioneer Natural Resources

The Federal Trade Commission on Thursday approved Exxon Mobil’s acquisition of Pioneer Natural Resources as long as Exxon excludes Pioneer’s chief executive from its board.

The $60 billion deal between the two Texas companies, which may become final as early as this week, would create the dominant oil and gas producer in the Permian Basin, the nation’s largest oil field in Texas and New Mexico. Exxon’s purchase of Pioneer is one of several major mergers and acquisitions in the oil and gas industry in recent years.

The FTC accused Pioneer CEO Scott Sheffield of working with officials from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and their allies to control global oil production and prices.

“Mr. “Sheffield’s past behavior makes it clear that he should not be anywhere near Exxon’s boardroom,” Kyle Mach, deputy director of the commission’s Bureau of Competition, said in a statement. “American consumers should Don’t pay unfair prices at the pump just to pad a corporate executive’s wallet.”

The FTC said Mr. Sheffield “sought to bring oil production across the Permian Basin into line” with OPEC and its allies through his public statements and in messages to and personal meetings with other oil executives. The commission said he exchanged “hundreds of text messages” with cartel representatives and officials discussing the oil market, prices and production.

Mr. Sheffield was a long-time leader in the U.S. oil industry and was one of the first explorers of shale deposits in Texas. He also pushed federal lawmakers to lift a ban on oil exports, an effort that was successful under the Obama administration.

Exxon said it had agreed not to add Mr. Sheffield to its board. Exxon said the FTC’s allegations against Mr. Sheffield were “completely inconsistent with how we conduct our business.”

Pioneer Natural Resources denied the commission’s allegations and said Mr. Sheffield had never sought to work with other oil producers.

“We disagree and are surprised,” Pioneer said in a statement. “Throughout Mr. Sheffield’s career, neither the intent nor the effect of his communications has been to circumvent the laws and principles protecting market competition.”

The company noted that from 2019 to 2023, Pioneer more than doubled the amount of oil produced in the U.S., helping to lower energy prices.

Mr. Sheffield declined to comment beyond Pioneer’s statement.

Shares of Exxon and Pioneer rose about 1 percent Thursday morning.

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