Anadarko Petroleum Corp.'s chief executive will step down in May and will be replaced by the chief operating officer.
CEO Jim Hackett said Tuesday that he will resign "to consider other avenues for personal and professional growth." Hackett, who has served as Anadarko's CEO for eight years, will depart gradually, moving to a newly created position of executive chairman before retiring in 2013.
Hackett, 58, has been at the helm of Anadarko since 2003, a period of strong growth for the Texas oil and gas company. Anadarko shares have more than tripled in value during Hackett's tenure, and it has increased oil and gas production in recent years.
"It's a great time in the company's trajectory" to leave, Hackett told reporters in a conference call. "This is something that's been planned for quite a while."
Anadarko is one of the world's largest independent oil and gas exploration and production companies. It operates in the Rocky Mountain region, the southern U.S., the Appalachian Basin and the Gulf of Mexico. It has international operations in China, Indonesia New Zealand, Brazil and Africa.
Anadarko was a minority owner of the Gulf of Mexico well that created the worst offshore spill in U.S. history, in April 2010. The company paid majority owner BP PLC $4 billion last year to protect itself from potential lawsuits or other risks stemming from its 25 percent ownership in the failed Macondo well. That well was being drilled by the Deepwater Horizon rig, which exploded and sank.
Al Walker, 55, currently Anadarko's president and chief operating officer, has been tapped to replace Hackett. Walker has spent six years with Anadarko, previously serving as senior vice president of finance and chief financial officer. He also is a director of Centerpoint Energy Inc. and Western Gas Holdings LLC.
Walker said he won't change the company's long-term strategy when he takes over.
The leadership changes take effect on May 15.
Anadarko shares fell by $2.43, or 2.8 percent, to $85.62 in afternoon trading.