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Typical worker's pay nears $200,000 at one oil refiner

The Wall Street Journal. logo The Wall Street Journal. 4/24/2019 Patrick Thomas

It was a fruitful year for the rank and file at oil-and-gas companies, from Exxon Mobil Corp. to Phillips 66.

Oil and gas drillers and refiners had some of the highest-paid median workers in the energy and utility sectors in 2018, according to The Wall Street Journal analysis of annual pay disclosures by hundreds of big U.S. companies.

Houston-based Phillips 66 paid its median worker $196,407, the highest of any company in the sector. Phillips was followed by Anadarko Petroleum Corp. at $183,445. Oil giant Exxon Mobil, which has roughly 72,600 employees, according to its latest proxy, had the third-highest median worker pay with $171,375.

Phillips 66 and Anadarko both boosted their 2018 median pay by about 15% in 2018 compared with 2017. Exxon raised its median pay about 6%. Oil-and-gas companies typically pay their workers better than many other sectors because they have fewer low-paid retail jobs and must compete in a tight labor market driven in part by the shale-oil boom.

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Phillips 66 and Exxon declined to comment beyond their proxy statements. Anadarko Petroleum didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Utility companies, such as Xcel Energy Inc. and American Electric Power Co., were closer to the typical pay for the energy and utility sector’s median of about $117,000, the highest median of any sector in the S&P 500. An American Electric Power spokeswoman said its compensation plan takes into account employee performance and that the company compares its pay levels to its peers. Xcel Energy didn’t respond to requests for comment.

The lowest-paid median employee in the energy sector worked at Marathon Petroleum Corp., earning $27,703. Unlike other oil and gas producers, Marathon operates roughly 3,900 Speedway convenience stores with about 40,000 employees, most of whom are part-time and work lower-wage jobs, according to Marathon’s latest proxy filing.

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Without Speedway, Marathon’s median worker pay is $167,607, according to its proxy filing. The company claims in its filing that it is the only domestic downstream refining company with a substantial retail presence.

The second- and third-lowest median worker pays were at energy equipment and services companies National Oilwell Varco Inc., at $51,917, and TechnipFMC PLC, at $59,634. In its latest proxy filing, TechnipFMC said only about 17% of its employees are based in the U.S. Service and equipment companies typically had larger manufacturing workforces and paid less than companies that extract oil and gas.

TechnipFMC and National Oilwell Varco both declined to comment beyond their proxy statements.

Most publicly traded firms are disclosing their median employee pay for a second straight year, along with compensation for top executives. Firms are asked to include part-time and temporary workers, but not contractors, and have the option of giving annual pay for some midyear hires. Companies may exclude up to 5% of their global workforce, but only non-U.S. workers, and may use sampling techniques to identify the median employee.

The Journal analysis, which includes more than 1,300 companies, combined the energy and utility sectors as defined by S&P Global. Those sectors include industry groups encompassing oil, gas and consumable fuels, electric utilities, multi-utilities, and energy equipment and services.

Check out this interactive link for the full ranking of companies or to search for a specific company or industry.

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