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Richard E. (Rick) Muncrief officially took the helm on May 15, 2014, as chief executive officer at WPX Energy (NYSE:WPX), one of the nation’s largest independent energy producers.

WPX has 16 drilling rigs deployed in the Piceance, Williston and San Juan basins as part of its $1.47 billion capital investment plan for 2014. The company reported first-quarter net income of $18 million, or $0.09 per share.

Muncrief, 55, is a petroleum engineer who has more than 30 years of upstream and midstream energy experience, most recently as senior vice president of operations and resource development at Continental Resources (NYSE:CLR) where he oversaw corporate engineering, reservoir development, drilling, production operations and supply chain management.

Muncrief released a letter to employees the day he assumed the new role.

“Good morning. My name is Rick Muncrief and I’m excited to start my first day as President and CEO. I believe in the future of WPX and want to lead a transformation of this company that we and our shareholders are proud of. That’s why I’m here.

My first priority is to meet with senior management and spend time with employees. I’m going to visit each of our operating areas during my first three weeks.

These are opportunities for honest, earnest, two-way communication. I will do a great deal of listening so I can understand historical perspectives about the company.

You were here before me. You have viewpoints and personal experiences that I don’t. Please share them. I want to learn everything I can about the current WPX culture as quickly as possible.

I also want to peel back the onion on our assets and dive into the details. You can help me with the background on our performance, plans and decision-making processes. I want to understand what works, what doesn’t and where we might have opportunities to improve.

Where do we stand right now? That’s a good question. Like many of you, I listened to our May 7 investor webcast. Jim Bender, whom I appreciate greatly, said, “One successful quarter is not enough. But it’s a great start.”

Bryan Guderian added, “Our confidence and our execution are growing. We remain solidly committed to further improving our operating results, delivering consistent performance and reducing costs.”

Financial analysts noted both strengths and weaknesses in our results, with two calling our first quarter “an important inflection point” – which is a time of significant change in a situation, or a turning point.

And, on our WPX Facebook page, Frank Field in Gas Marketing went a little further, saying he believes we’ve “turned the corner.”

I love to see this kind of optimism and enthusiasm. It’s healthy. It’s contagious. It inspires company pride. We should always be our company’s most ardent and fervent supporters.

As for momentum, it’s too early to tell. We’ve got a lot of work to do, and we want to be careful and thoughtful as we work to restore credibility and rebuild confidence in our company.

But we definitely have something to build on – our assets. We also have something to build for – our future. But before we can build our company, we need to build a vision of who we’re going to be.

Determining our strategy is an exciting endeavor. I ask for your patience as our management team and Board of Directors evaluate the best path forward for WPX. There are many conversations we need to have and decisions to consider. I can assure you that we’re laser-focused on this process.

So far, three things come to mind as I start thinking about developing our strategy: integrity, scalability and identity. Let me give you a little context around what I mean.

First, let’s talk about integrity. We can’t run a business without it. We have to keep emphasizing hard work, commitment, accountability and the importance of keeping our word. Put simply, we’ve got to do what we say we’re going to do.

WPX’s 40 awards marking excellence, efficiencies and ethical conduct point to our integrity. We have another honor on the way, too. We can leverage this track record by turning it into a competitive advantage for WPX.

Second, sometimes there’s scrutiny around how many core assets a company should have. For me, it’s more about measuring the size or scalability of those assets. When you have scale, you can drive down costs and truly optimize execution.

An example of this is WPX’s Piceance Basin asset, where we have more than 12,000 remaining drillable locations. We need assets with large scale that allow us to grow profitably.

Finally, let’s talk about building a new identity. There will always be urgency to deliver improved results and returns. At the same time, it’s important for us to get our arms around a company identity that contemplates who we are and where we want to be in three, five and 10 years. The results will go hand in hand with carrying out a clear company mission.

I see nothing but upside at WPX. Will there be some challenges we have to face? Sure, but we’ll get through them and do what’s best for building the future of the company. As with any transition, there will be changes, too. We’ll need to do some things differently as our turnaround story takes shape.

In some cases, we’ll apply the brakes. In other instances, we may hit the accelerator. In every case, we will provide clarity to Wall Street and to our current and future workforce. It’s our charge. And I’m ready to get started.”

Source: WPX Energy


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