Low prices forced Chevron and its rivals to slash costs by laying off workers and scrapping expensive drilling projects.
Last week, San Francisco and Oakland sued Chevron and five other oil companies, demanding they pay billions to cover the costs of climate change.
In recent years, ExxonMobil, Royal Dutch Shell ( RDSA ) and Total ( TTFNF ) have all tapped refining execs to take over.
"Chevron has a proud 138-year history of developing the energy that improves lives and powers the world forward," Wirth said.
Chevron said that since Watson took over in 2010 its total shareholder returns, which includes stock price and dividends, have nearly doubled those of ExxonMobil ( XOM ).
- Chevron taps Mike Wirth to be next CEO as Watson retiresReuters
- Chevron names Michael Wirth chairman and CEOCNBC
- Chevron names Wirth to replace retiring CEOUPI.com
- Chevron Hands Mantle to Ex-Refining Boss Mike WirthBloomberg
- Chevron names new CEO with Watson set to retireChron.com
- My successor's not just a cost cutter, says Chevron chiefFinancial Times
- Chevron Is Getting a New CEO Early Next YearFortune
- Chevron says Wirth to succeed John Watson as CEOFinancial Times
- Chevron Names Michael Wirth Chairman, CEOWall Street Journal (subscription)