A visit ‘home’ for ExxonMobil chief

TUESDAY night’s Longford Gas Plant Dinner in Sale was almost a home coming for ExxonMobil Australia’s new chairman Richard Owen.

Mr Owen’s first job following graduation from the University of Sydney 1983 with a degree in chemical engineering was at Esso’s Longford gas plant.

During his time at Longford he spent three years on a plant survey project and later in Sale in the Esso offices in the Raybond Building and the Foster St Esso offices and was part of the design group tasked with enhancing the fire suppression systems for offshore platforms.

These projects were the first of a series of technical and operational management assignments that followed in Australia.

He met his wife Jenny Haase in Sale, married at St Columba’s Uniting Church and their two sons began their schooling at Sale Primary School before he was transferred to Sydney.

In 2001 Mr Owen was appointed operations manager United States East-USP in New Orleans, where he worked with current Longford plant manager Monte Olson.

Since then he has been operations manager at Houston Texas, Alaska Joint Interest manager, deputy productions manager Hanover, Germany and president and general manager of ExxonMobil Affiliates Indonesia.

While Mr Owen and his family have maintained contact with the Sale community and Mrs Owen’s immediate family members over the years, his most recent return brought a few surprises.

“What about those Reeve St traffic lights and the long slow drive through Wurruk” he commented.

He also suggested it was a pity much of the old prison wall had been taken down, but thought it appropriate the new police station would be located there.

He also commented it was pleasing to see so many familiar surnames on the staff lists at Longford and offshore, but admitted the faces were not the same.

“These are the next generation of men and women working for the company,” he said.