Southwestern names new CEO

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HOUSTON — Southwestern Energy Co. has picked top lieutenant Bill Way to be its new chief executive, as outgoing CEO Steven Mueller prepares to retire later this year.

Way has served as the Houston natural gas and oil producer’s chief operating officer and president for more than four years, and will take the helm as the energy-price collapse moves into a second year.

“I recognize these are difficult times for our industry and for (Southwestern),” Way said in a written statement.

He said the company is being redesigned to become more competitive in a tough domestic natural gas market, with a focus on reducing its cost structure and spending within its cash flow. The company’s low-cost North American position will help spur growth once gas and oil prices recover. Southwestern, the fourth largest shale driller in the Appalachia region, drills in gas-rich shale plays in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Arkansas.

Before joining Southwestern in 2011, Way helped oversee exploration and production, midstream and liquefied natural gas operations for BG Group in the United States, Canada and parts of South America. The Texas A&M University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology graduate is “the right person to lead the company forward now and in the years to come,” said Cathy Kehr, presiding director of Southwestern, in a written statement.

Mueller, Southwestern’s outgoing CEO, will become the company’s non-executive chairman until his retirement after the firm’s annual shareholder meeting in May.