Energy Insights

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…

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…

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…

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…

Measuring E&P Capital Decisions in an Annual Incentive Plan is Complicated

Are E&P companies using the right metrics in their annual incentive programs?

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There has been a lot of attention (both from the media and investors) focused on whether E&P companies are using the right metrics in their annual incentive programs. E&P companies have been criticized for a heavy focus on production and…

Controlling Activist Investors

Potential Texas legislation would curtail activist investors and proxy advisors.

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While we wait to see what deregulation might come out of the new administration regarding Dodd-Frank or other executive compensation regulations, the Texas legislature might take a huge step in favor of corporate boards and management. A bill currently pending…

The Impact of Lower Stock Prices on 2016 Say on Pay

Many energy companies should anticipate tripping ISS's absolute stock price test.

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The current industry downturn is already impacting compensation programs and will likely also impact the upcoming Say on Pay season. Based on our research, the market decline will cause an increased number of energy companies to trip a key ISS…

The Impact of Lower for Longer

Oil prices seem to be remaining "lower for longer," so what does that mean for compensation?

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In a previous Energy Insights post, Jim Wolf discussed the impact of $40 oil prices on early 2015 compensation decisions. At the time, energy companies speculated whether we’d see a “V”-shaped or “U”-shaped recovery. After a volatile summer – doubts…

Proposed Pay for Performance Disclosures May Actually Help

Benefits of the proposed disclosures include a standardized methodology for realizable pay and additional data that will facilitate shareholder analysis.

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The SEC recently proposed rules outlining a new CD&A disclosure coming out of Dodd-Frank (see Meridian Alert here) – these rules require disclosure of the link between performance and compensation “actually paid”. While the proposed disclosures will likely require a…

Energy Industry Influences ISS Peer Approach

ISS recently released its policy updates for the 2015 proxy season, with one notable change.

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ISS recently released its policy updates for the 2015 proxy season (Meridian summaries here and here). One notable change is ISS’s methodology for selecting peers for energy companies for use in its pay for performance analysis. This change was likely…

Should bonus outcomes be different by level?

Insights into whether there should be different standards for executive bonuses than for the broader population, and whether executives shouldbe held to a higher standard of accountability to shareholders.

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In our experience, a large number of oil & gas companies provide the same bonus funding level for all bonus-eligible employees in the organization. There may be differentiation based on individual or business unit performance (horizontal differentiation) but no differentiation…

ISS Continues its Unpredictability

While ISS Remains Influential, Some of its Decisions are Inconsistent From Company to Company

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The 2014 proxy season is almost over for calendar year companies. Based on our analysis, ISS continues to play an influential role and the energy industry continues to be one of their favorite targets, but it’s getting more difficult to…

Looking for Shareholder Value Drivers

Analyzing Common Annual Bonus Metrics to Predict Shareholder Value

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Annual incentive metrics should be key drivers of long-term shareholder value. Most energy companies include this in their philosophy statements, and it sounds straightforward. But what are the drivers of long-term shareholder value? The answer to that question obviously varies…

Using Realizable Pay to Test Pay and Performance Alignment

Testing the Link Between Pay and Performance Can Help Firms in Many Ways

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With the calendar year completed, many of our energy clients are taking this opportunity to test the long-term historical link of pay and performance. This historical analysis serves a few purposes: Helping the compensation committee understand whether they have an…

Questioning Total Shareholder Return

While Total Shareholder Return is Under Scrutiny, it Remains the Best Metric to Evaluate Performance

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Relative Total Shareholder Return (TSR) has become the most common performance metric in long-term incentive plans across the energy industry. TSR is also the primary metric used by shareholders and proxy advisors like ISS to evaluate performance and test the…

Benchmark the Role, Pay the Person

Use Market Data to Make Informed Pay Decisions

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Many energy companies are preparing to review market benchmark data in the next few months. When used correctly, market benchmark data provides a valuable tool to help make informed pay decisions, but should not be used without appropriate context. Below…

2013 ISS Recommendation Trends

ISS Recommendations for the Energy Industry are Looking Up This Year with Fewer Against Votes Than Last Year

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We’re about midway through the 2013 proxy season and so far, the energy industry is faring better than last year with ISS. 12% of energy companies have received a Say on Pay AGAINST recommendation from ISS this year as opposed…