UPDATE 3-Imperial Oil names Exxon veteran Kruger as CEO

Thu Feb 21, 2013 5:09pm EST
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* Rich Kruger to replace Bruce March next month

* March named senior VP at ExxonMobil Chemical Co

* Shuffle comes after oil sands budget woes

* Shares drop 27 Canadian cents in Toronto

By Jeffrey Jones

CALGARY, Alberta, Feb 21 (Reuters) - Imperial Oil Ltd has named Exxon Mobil Corp executive Rich Kruger to replace Bruce March as CEO of Canada's No. 2 oil producer and refiner as it readies to start up its C$12.9 billion ($12.7 billion) Kearl oil sands mine against a backdrop of weak heavy-crude prices.

March, who ran Imperial Oil for five years, will become senior vice-president at Exxon's chemical unit, Imperial said on Thursday. Kruger, currently president of ExxonMobil Production Co, will take over at the Canadian company on March 1. Exxon Mobil has a 69.6 percent stake in Imperial.

March, 56, laid the groundwork for a big expansion of Imperial's oil production as he completed construction of the Kearl project in northern Alberta, which is expected to begin producing before the end of March. A second phase is scheduled to start up in 2015.

During his tenure, he took on a more public persona than his predecessors, often taking center stage in the industry's campaign to persuade the public it is moving quickly to improve environmental performance despite growing criticism from green groups.   Continued...