Energy Insights

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Benchmarking in an Unusual Cycle

We expect that the typical fall benchmarking/market data process will look different for many oil & gas companies.

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We expect that the typical fall benchmarking/market data process will look different for many oil & gas companies. The current commodity price and general economic environment will likely impact compensation levels across much of the industry, which will cause a…

Announced Pay Reductions

Pay reductions are as of June 30, 2020

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Meridian is currently tracking announced pay reductions within the oil and gas space. The largest number of reductions to date have been announced in the oilfield services sector. We’re planning on regularly updating this list and re-posting at https://www.meridiancp.com/insights/energy/ Oilfield…

Stock Ownership Guidelines in Challenging Times

Recent stock price declines across the oil & gas industry have likely created challenges for executives and outside directors to maintain the required level of ownership.

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Stock ownership guidelines are nearly universal for both executives and directors. They help ensure alignment with shareholders by encouraging executives and outside directors to hold onto a substantial amount of company stock. They have historically not required a substantial open-market…

Predicting the Future of E&P Bonus Design

The current oil and gas market challenges are testing the efficacy of prevailing bonus plan structures among exploration and production (E&P) companies.

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E&P bonus plans have historically aligned with growth and investment, focusing on volume (production and reserves) and cost reduction, measures that are more controllable by management and less impacted by commodity prices than earnings-based metrics. In recent years, investors and…

Survey Results: Oil & Gas Workforce and Compensation Strategies

Meridian surveyed fifty-eight companies in the E&P (n=40) and Oilfield Service (n=18) sectors in April to gauge the ongoing impact of COVID-19 and low oil price/demand on companies’ workforce and 2020 compensation programs.

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Key Takeaways In our March survey results we reported an overwhelming majority of companies focused on emergency business actions and less on compensation considerations. As of the end of April, it appears companies have taken action on their now identified…

Executive Salary Reductions in Oil & Gas: What’s the Message?

Through 4/30 we have tracked nearly 60 energy industry companies that have announced CEO salary cuts, the most of any industry group in our COVID-19 database.

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The fact that so many energy industry companies have reported salary reductions should not be surprising; the double black swans of record production and cratering demand have driven industry stock prices further down on average (-58%) than in any other…

How should oil & gas companies approach their 2020 annual bonus?

“Wait and see” seems to be the mantra of the day, particularly when it comes to an energy company’s annual bonus plan.

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“Wait and see” seems to be the mantra of the day, particularly when it comes to an energy company’s annual bonus plan. We think that’s a prudent approach for the moment, as much uncertainty remains among the energy industry and…

The Impact of Recent Pay Actions on Severance Arrangements

Our recent posts have summarized a range of compensation actions across the oil and gas industry that companies have either announced or are considering in response to the current market environment.

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These actions have included pay reductions, work furloughs, and layoffs. Among other matters, companies likely need to evaluate the impact of these actions on severance benefits. Multiple types of arrangements provide for cash and other benefits in the event of…

Should We Cut Outside Director Compensation?

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In our last two postings, we highlighted a number of potential compensation implications for oil & gas companies in the current environment. Beginning with this update, we’ll select some key topics to review in a bit more depth. And, since…

Oil & Gas Crisis Response: 2020 Compensation Responses will lead to Sustained Changes

2020’s significant downturn already shows some marked differences from the 2008-2009 and 2015-2016 downturns (the last instances where oil prices fell more than 50% over a short time period).

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Mere weeks after boards approved compensation outcomes from 2019 performance, there’s a temptation to revisit or change those outcomes under the lens of 2020 performance. We believe that in the large majority of cases, those 2019 outcomes should stand on…

Compensation Implications of the Current Environment

The week of March 9, 2020 may have marked the single worst week for oil and gas stocks on record.

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That was rough… The week of March 9, 2020 may have marked the single worst week for oil and gas stocks on record. A lot has changed, and the only thing certain is that more change will come. Here is…

Time to Check Your Equity Incentive Plan Share Reserve

With depressed energy stocks, more shares are now needed to maintain recent levels of employee equity awards.

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This increase in share use also means that equity incentive plan reserves will drain at a faster rate, and may run out sooner than expected. Companies often ask for more shares when there is roughly enough left in the plan…

2019 Say on Pay Outcomes in Oil & Gas Continue to Trail General Industry

Several oil & gas companies had a rough proxy season in 2019, with overall lukewarm shareholder support for executive pay programs in the industry.

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While many companies received kudos from investors for the addition of returns-oriented incentive metrics, others struggled to demonstrate pay-for-performance alignment or continued to make aggressive pay actions despite lackluster shareholder returns in 2018. In this posting, we take a look…

EVA for E&P Companies: A Challenging Measure

In 2019, ISS introduced Economic Value Added (EVA) analysis as additional context in its evaluation of executive pay and performance prior to issuing a “say on pay” (SOP) vote recommendation.

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While initially the EVA material will be provided purely for information, it seems inevitable that ISS will continue to push to include EVA as a formal part of its pay for performance analysis. There are general concerns about ISS using…

The Revival of Excise Tax Gross-Ups?

Occidental’s proposed acquisition of Anadarko may kick off a new wave of consolidation in the oil & gas industry.

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This potential wave has generated questions about Change-in-Control (CIC) severance protections, amplified by the significant coverage of Anadarko’s last minute enhancements to its CIC severance programs (see article). The Anadarko enhancements included elevated severance benefits and the re-insertion of excise…

Long-Term Incentives and Stock Ownership Ensure Alignment with Shareholders

Annual incentive metrics serve an important purpose: communicate a company’s priorities and provide incremental annual feedback on performance.

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Much of the commentary on energy industry pay programs has focused on annual bonus metrics. Annual incentives are easier to analyze because the payouts are clearly disclosed each year in the Summary Compensation Table, and those payments can communicate how…

Relative TSR Still Delivers Real Pay-for-Performance Alignment in the Oil & Gas Industry

Among the ten largest Oil & Gas production companies that have reported 2017-2018 compensation actions, each has either implemented or enhanced a financial returns metric for 2018 incentive compensation.

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The menu of industry annual incentive metrics (and some long-term incentive metrics) now includes several instances of ROCE, Cash ROCE, ROIC, estimated wellhead returns, and other non-GAAP measures of investment returns. Investors may welcome the incentive accountability to financial returns,…