Ralph A. Hill  of  WPX Energy (NYSE: WPX) will step down as president, CEO, and board member, the company said on Dec. 17. James J. Bender will become interim president, CEO, and board member in Hill’s place, effective Dec. 31.  Hill will stay with WPX through next March as the transition eases, the company added.

Hill spent more than 32 years working in various roles at Williams (NYSE: WMB) and then WPX. Hill and his team eventually helped WPX spin off from Williams in 2012.

Bender is currently WPX’s senior vice president and general counsel. Bender will serve as interim CEO while the board’s permanent selection search process for Hill continues.

“We very much appreciate Ralph’s dedicated service to WPX Energy and wish him well in his future endeavors. Finding the right individual to lead the company at this pivotal time is one of the board’s highest priorities," William G. Lowrie, WPX chairman, said.

WPX Energy is an exploration and production company focused on developing its significant oil and gas reserves, particularly in the Piceance, Williston and Appalachian basins.