Oil giant ExxonMobil, one of the area’s largest employers, will be ceasing operations at its Fairfax campus and transferring all of its 2,100 locally based employees to Houston. Affected businesses include the company’s refining and supply business, research and engineering, fuels and lubricants and specialties marketing.
In a press release, the company announced the move as a part of a broader consolidation in order to promote collaboration, moving employees from Fairfax, Akron, Ohio, and other facilities in the Houston area into a new, 385-acre campus that began construction in 2011. The Irving, Tex.-based corporation stated that it would begin relocating employees in phases by early 2014 and conclude the process by 2015.
The Fairfax campus was acquired by Exxon in 1999 during its merger with Mobil Oil. Prior to the announcement, the Fairfax location had served as ExxonMobil’s headquarters for downstream operations, according to the Associated Press.
The office of Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) expressed disappointment at ExxonMobil’s decision, but told the Washington Post that it had expected the company to leave Fairfax for some time.
“We’ve been aware since early in the administration that Exxon planned to consolidate operations in Houston,” spokesman Tucker Martin said in an interview with the Post.
This stands in contrast to ExxonMobil’s position this time last year, when the company told the Washington Business Journal that jobs in Fairfax would not be affected.
“The Fairfax office and operations in New Jersey are not included” in the consolidation, ExxonMobil spokesman Alan Jeffers told the Journal at the time.
Fairfax County Economic Development Authority President Gerald Gordon declined to say whether the state or the county had created an incentive package to entice ExxonMobil to stay, and told the AP only that ExxonMobil had been studying campus consolidation for several years. Other Fairfax County officials were optimistic about the future. In an interview with the Post, Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon S. Bulova stated that ExxonMobil is actively seeking a new tenant for the Fairfax space.
“I don’t expect the space to be vacant for long,” she told the Post.
Indeed, speculation about the property’s post-ExxonMobil future has run rampant since 2010, when the Post reported that the company began reviewing its domestic real estate portfolio. Organizations ranging from healthcare companies to the CIA have been billed as potential future tenants.