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Chicago – Darren Woods, the man replacing Rex Tillerson as the leader of America’s most influential energy giant, helped transform Exxon Mobil’s refining business from a poor cousin of oil production to the primary profit generator.

Woods, the company’s refining boss since 2012, was named the next chairman and chief executive officer effective Jan. 1 after President-elect Donald Trump picked Tillerson to become US Secretary of State, the Irving, Texas-based oil company said in a statement Wednesday. Even if Tillerson doesn’t become America’s top diplomat – three Republican senators have expressed misgivings about his nomination – he was due to leave no later than March when he reaches Exxon’s mandatory retirement age.

Woods, 51, inherits a drilling and refining behemoth hamstrung by a 2 1/2-year slump in energy markets, ill-timed investments in North American shale and Russia, and allegations of deceiving investors with a climate-change cover-up. Still, Trump’s election, OPEC’s plan to cut production and Woods’s ability to boost the value of the company’s refineries have all combined to change the face of the industry for Exxon heading into the future.

“Validating the integrated model will be the challenge for the next leader of Exxon,” said Vincent Piazza, a senior analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence in New York. “Downstream and chemicals have been the few bright spots counterbalancing the negative impact of prices on the upstream segment.”

Woods’s elevation to chairman and CEO was telegraphed with his promotion to president in January, the same time he became a member of the board of directors. He’s been on the six-person management committee that oversees day-to-day operations since June 2014. He steps into the new roles effective January 1.

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