Wirth currently serves as vice chairman of Chevron's board and executive vice president of Midstream and Development.

Starting Feb. 1, 2018, Chevron Corp. (CVX) will have a new chairman and chief executive in Michael K. Wirth, according to a company statement Thursday, Sept. 28.

Wirth, who has worked at Chevron for 35 years, will replace John S. Watson when he retires this winter. Watson has led the company for the last eight years of his 37-year career at Chevron, which started with a financial analyst position in 1980.

Wirth, 56, currently serves as vice chairman of Chevron's board and executive vice president of Midstream and Development. He started at Chevron in 1982 as a design engineer.

Chevron's decision to promote a refining expert to the CEO position comes after a similar move from rival Exxon Mobil (XOM) . Exxon promoted Darren Woods to its top leadership position at the start of this year after Woods held senior roles in refining and supply operations. 

Wirth's promotion comes amid widespread cost-cutting at Chevron as the oil industry comes off a two-year slump in crude prices that has negatively affected revenue for many firms. 

In the same announcement, San Ramon, Calif.-based Chevron said Mark A. Nelson will become VP of Midstream, Strategy and Policy. The new role will include responsibilities for overseeing supply and trading, shipping, pipeline and power operating units along with corporate strategy and public affairs.

Chevron shares traded up 0.23% to $117.72  in late-afternoon trading Thursday.

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