Our history

From a company of eight employees working in a cramped Fort Worth office, to a team of 4,700, XTO has come a long way — and we believe this is only the beginning.


Our history
At XTO Energy, whether it is in business or in the community, we have made exceptional performance a habit. It’s driven by a proven strategy, a culture of excellence and a vision for the future.
Bob Simpson

co-founder of XTO Energy

Today we operate throughout the United States, from the Great Plains to Appalachia, and in Western Canada and Argentina.


In 1986, three Southland Royalty Company executives – Steve Palko, Bob Simpson and Jon Brumley – found themselves suddenly out of work after a hostile takeover by Meridian Oil and Gas. Foreshadowing the strength, determination and spirit of independence that would later come to define XTO, the men decided to set out on their own and start a new company, Cross Timbers Oil Company.


Cross Timbers acquired Ladd Petroleum Corporation, setting the stage for the development of future acquisitions. Over the next four years, Cross Timbers added properties to its Permian and Mid-Continent Divisions from Shell Western, Crown Central and Mesa Petroleum.


By 1990, the company opened new offices in Midland and Oklahoma City, and field offices in Elk City, Oklahoma, and Perryton, Texas. Cross Timbers was incorporated in 1990, and six limited partnerships and two corporations were rolled into it.


Determination is central to the Company’s core values – so Cross Timbers’ failed attempt at an earlier initial public offering only made success sweeter in 1993. Cross Timbers’ IPO of 6.7 million shares, trading under the ticker symbol “XTO,” was valued at $85 million.


Cross Timbers purchased the W. T. Waggoner Building in Fort Worth, Texas. Formerly home to Continental National Bank (1920 – 1957), the building’s ornate entrance lobby and vaulted elevator hall were restored. One of the few early skyscrapers with its original banking lobby and mezzanine intact, it is listed on the National Historic Register.


During a time of scarcity in natural resources, the case for natural gas was becoming more optimistic. In 1998, levels of U.S. crude oil dropped to near the 20-year low, while oil production reached a 50-year low.


By 2000, domestic production for natural gas had remained relatively flat for 10 years. As supply deteriorated, demand for natural gas grew.


Cross Timbers Oil Company changed its name to XTO Energy, reflecting the company’s growth and signaling the emergence of what was now a $3 billion enterprise focused on natural gas production.


XTO was ranked fifth on Fortune’s “100 Fastest Growing Companies,” securing its spot as a premier domestic energy company.


XTO was honored with the Spirit of Enterprise Award from the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce, for its civic, community, charitable and historic contributions.


XTO was added to the S&P 500, and operations began in the now-legendary Barnett Shale.


Co-Founder Steve Palko retired and Keith Hutton was named president. Continuing its tradition of restoring historic property, XTO bought two buildings in downtown Fort Worth – the Petroleum Building, built in 1927, and the Binyon O’Keefe Warehouse, built in 1917.


XTO celebrated its 20-year anniversary. XTO was also named “Best Managed E&P Company” by Forbes and ranked fourth-best performing on the NYSE since its IPO in 1993.


Making its single largest purchase to date, the Company acquired properties from Dominion Resources for $2.5 billion.


XTO and its employees made headlines in 2008, with $11.2 billion in acquisitions. However, it was the historic purchase of 80-year old Hunt Petroleum for $4.2 billion that capped off the year, garnering recognition from Oil and Gas Investor magazine as the “M&A Deal of the Year.”


XTO became the largest natural gas producer in the United States, with 5.4 percent of all footage drilled in the country in 2009.


XTO merged with ExxonMobil, in a deal valued at $41 billion. This teamed XTO’s expertise and experience in the natural gas business with ExxonMobil’s cutting-edge technologies, financial strength and historic leadership in the global energy industry.


In 2011, a new operating division was created at XTO – the Appalachia Division.


Following the acquisition of Celtic Exploration Ltd. by ExxonMobil Canada and Imperial Oil, XTO’s Western Canada Division was established to operate the Celtic properties – marking the first time XTO conducted operations outside of the United States. XTO also experienced a change in leadership. With the appointment of Randy Cleveland as president, Tim McIlwain as senior vice president of operations, and Ken Kirby as senior vice president of development, XTO ensured the continuation of strong leadership with the experience to manage future growth and change.


In the first half of the year, XTO signed two separate deals with Endeavor Energy Resources and LINN Energy, gaining additional high quality acreage in the Permian Basin. The company continued to be nimble and responsive to changes in the business environment, as ExxonMobil Production Company transferred stewardship of assets in East Texas to XTO. Following one of the safest years in company history, XTO also created the President’s Safety Award to recognize operating units that demonstrate a commitment to safety leadership and operational integrity. The Mid-Continent Division was the first recipient of this award.


XTO spuds first well in Argentina. The 2,500-meter horizontal lateral is the longest ever drill in the Vaca Muerta formation, located in the Neuquén Province of Argentina. XTO began leading the activity for ExxonMobil Exploration Argentina's five-well pilot project in the Vaca Muerta formation in 2015.


ExxonMobil acquired companies owned by the Bass family of Fort Worth, Texas, more than doubling its Permian Basin resource to 6 billion barrel of oil equivalent. Managed by XTO Energy, the acquisition includes an estimated resource of 3.4 billion barrels of oil equivalent in New Mexico's Delaware Basin, a highly prolific, oil-prone section of the Permian Basin.

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