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Monday, 26 April 2010

The unassuming oil giant

The shelves in John Watson’s office in San Ramon, California, are filled with mementoes ranging from statuettes from Angola to a dagger from Saudi Arabia and a jar of yellow solid sulphur pellets from a field in Tengiz, Kazakhstan. “I do like putting up trinkets,’’ admits the recently appointed chief executive of Chevron.

Interspersed among them are photographs of his wife of 30 years and two college-aged sons. There is also a picture of him at the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange. In the corner stands an eclectic assortment of Standard Oil kerosene and oil drums, collected by his wife.

His decorations, he says, are chosen for the memories they evoke of places and times, not their monetary value. Indeed, he jokes that his front room at home is a “low-priced museum”.