February 27, 2019 / 5:33 PM / 7 months ago

Exclusive: Exxon adds veteran traders to bulk up oil trading - sources

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Exxon Mobil Corp has hired veteran crude traders Mitch Rubinstein and Michael Paradise in Houston, to further boost its trading capabilities, sources familiar with the matter told Reuters on Wednesday.

A logo of the Exxon Mobil Corp is seen at the Rio Oil and Gas Expo and Conference in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil September 24, 2018. REUTERS/Sergio Moraes

In a break from its past, Exxon has been building a global cadre of experienced traders and beefing up risk management systems to lift profit.

Exxon, the largest U.S. oil company by market capitalization, has historically stood apart from rivals by limiting trading activity out of concerns it would be accused of market manipulation.

The oil major has lagged behind rivals BP Plc, Chevron Corp and Royal Dutch Shell Plc, which have created trading units that occasionally generate more profit than their refining businesses.

Both Rubinstein and Paradise, both of whom will be based in Houston, left commodity trader Noble Group Ltd in 2017.

Rubinstein was managing director and global head of crude oil at Noble until 2017, when rival Vitol SA agreed to buy Noble Americas Corp. Noble was once Asia’s biggest commodity trader, and has restructured after facing insolvency last year.

Before Noble, Paradise was Citigroup Inc’s director of oil trading in Houston.

Exxon also recently hired Gary Pace, a senior gasoline trader, sources familiar with his move said. Pace was most recently at investment bank Macquarie in Houston and previously worked for Shell’s U.S. trading arm, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Last year, Exxon hired at least four gasoline market specialists from refiner Phillips 66. In 2018, it also hired former BHP Billiton Plc trader Nelson Lee as an international crude trader.

A spokeswoman for Exxon declined to comment. Pace and Rubinstein did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Rubinstein updated his LinkedIn profile to reflect his move to Exxon, but his exact title is not clear. A source familiar with the matter said he has already started at the company.

Exxon has been aiming to expand trading and marketing around more of its growing energy assets to get the best prices for its products and increase earnings.

“That is the style of the guys they are hiring,” one industry source said.

This week, Exxon said its oil and gas reserves rose nearly 23 percent last year, driven mainly by increases from holdings in U.S. shale, offshore Guyana and Brazil.

Reporting by Devika Krishna Kumar in New York and Florence Tan in Singapore; Editing by Marguerita Choy and Steve Orlofsky

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