Fracking at top of Chevron, Exxon meetings
By Braden Reddall and Marice Richter
SAN RAMON, Calif./DALLAS (Reuters) - Investor concerns about hydraulic fracturing at Chevron have eased, in contrast to a slight rise at rival Exxon, as the two largest U.S. oil companies faced growing pressure at shareholder meetings to name independent chairmen to improve governance.
Groups of protesters descended on the respective annual meetings in California and Texas.
One of about 80 outside Chevron Corp (CVX.N: Quote) headquarters in San Ramon waved a sign that said "Fracking is environmental rape," while others called on the company to better address its protracted legal battle in South America over oil pollution.
Energy companies use hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, to create fissures in rock like shale that allow oil and gas to escape. In the process water, sand and chemicals are pumped at very high pressures into wells drilled deep into the ground.
"If you think the reputational risks are bad with people coming from Ecuador, wait until they come from Pennsylvania and Colorado," said Larry Fahn, president of investor pressure group As You Sow, while arguing for a Chevron shareholder proposal on the risks of hydraulic fracturing.
Yet concerns about the oil and gas production practice among shareholders were notably more subdued. After a similar fracking resolution at the 2011 meeting had support from a surprisingly high 41 percent of Chevron shareholders, a similar proposal got 27 percent backing this year.
Support among Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM.N: Quote) shareholders for such a resolution rose to just under 30 percent from 28 percent last year.
There was also a Chevron resolution on appointing a board director with environmental expertise, but an early vote count showed 23 percent supported it, down from 25 percent last year. Continued...