Suncor Energy Inc. has announced its next president and CEO after a months-long search.
Rich Kruger will take on the top job at the Calgary-based oil producer and refiner on April 3.
Kruger will replace interim CEO Kris Smith, who stepped in to fill the role after Mark Little resigned in July 2022 amid investor pressure and in the wake of a spate of workplace deaths and safety incidents.
At least a dozen workers have died at the company’s oilsands operations in northern Alberta since 2014, and Little resigned just one day after the most recent fatality.
Kruger worked for Exxon Mobil Corp. for 39 years, leading Imperial Oil Ltd. from 2013 to 2019 before retiring from the company.
“Rich is a highly capable and seasoned CEO with an impressive track record of leading a safety culture,” said Suncor board chair Michael Wilson.
Following a transition period, Smith will assume the role of chief financial officer and executive vice-president of corporate development after Suncor’s annual general meeting on May 9.
Alister Cowan, the current CFO, is set to retire at the end of the year, the company said Tuesday.
Wilson said Smith took “decisive action to drive necessary improvements in Suncor’s performance” during his time as interim CEO.
In the eight months since being named interim CEO, Smith has implemented a number of changes aimed at improving worker safety at Suncor sites, which had been a problem area flagged by U.S.-based activist investor Elliott Investment Management.
As the company reported its fourth quarter earnings last week, Smith told analysts that collision awareness systems are scheduled to go live at Syncrude’s Aurora mine by the end of the first quarter, and Suncor is also on track to complete implementation of collision awareness and fatigue management technology systems across all nine of its oilsands sites.
The company is also reducing the size of its contractor workforce by 20 per cent, a move Smith said will reduce the number of exposure hours that put the company at risk for workplace injuries or fatalities, while also lowering costs.
Suncor said Kruger, who will also join the company’s board of directors, was unanimously selected for the role after a “rigorous global search” conducted by a special committee of the board.