With President-elect Donald Trump picking longtime Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson to serve as U.S. Secretary of State, there’s soon to be a vacancy at America’s biggest oil and gas company.
That position is likely to be filled by Darren Woods, the company’s president and member of the board of directors.
Woods, 51, has been seen as the heir-apparent for a while. As president — a role he assumed in January — he holds the very same title that Tillerson held before he was promoted to CEO in 2006. And while the circumstances of Tillerson’s pending exit may have come as a surprise, the exit itself has been in stone since the beginning. Exxon’s mandatory retirement age is 65, meaning Tillerson would have to retire in March 2017. There’s no question the well-oiled oil giant has been grooming a replacement.
A spokesperson for Exxon Mobil told Fortune on Tuesday that the board will be “meeting shortly regarding transition” but declined to comment on whether Woods is under consideration.
Woods, a Kansas native who studied electrical engineering at Texas A&M and has a master’s in business from Northwestern University, joined Exxon in 1992 as a planning analyst. He’s held a variety of positions in the last two decades, including a stint in Brussels as director of refining for Europe, Africa, and the Middle East.
If appointed CEO, Woods will likely earn significantly more than the $10.3 million he saw in 2015. Tillerson’s 2015 compensation checked in at $27.3 million, including a base salary of $3 million.
He will also inherit a company that’s struggling to regain ground amid a collapse in oil prices. Exxon saw revenue plunge 13% and profits plummet nearly 40% in the third quarter, extending a streak of declines that began in 2014. Looking to cut costs, the Irving, Texas-based corporation has reportedly slashed more than $9 billion in production investment so far this year.
In April, Exxon had its AAA credit rating downgraded by Standard & Poor’s for the first time in 67 years.