An ExxonMobil senior executive and head of the company’s shale oil and gas business has been arrested at a hotel in Texas, US, on a charge of sexual assault.

David Scott, vice-president of Exxon’s upstream unconventional unit, was arrested early on Thursday morning at a La Quinta Inn & Suites hotel in Magnolia, Texas, the Montgomery Sherriff’s Office said. He was in a room with two women, one of which left to phone the police from the hotel’s lobby, a worker who saw a security video told Reuters.

Records at the county Sheriff’s Office show that the 49-year-old faces a second-degree felony assault charge. He is being held on a $30,000 bond, according to county jail records. Convictions in the state for such felonies carry a prison sentence of between two and 20 years.

Scott has been with the oil and gas giant for 26 years, according to his LinkedIn profile. His role at the company includes oversight of Exxon’s operations in the Permian Basin, the US’s most prolific oilfield.

Exxon did not immediately response to a request for comment, but a spokesperson told the Financial Times that the company was aware of the allegations but could not comment publicly on a “personal matter”.

“However, we can say that this individual will not continue work responsibilities as the investigation proceeds,” they said, adding that “all ExxonMobil employees, officers and directors are accountable for observing the highest standards of integrity and code of conduct in support of the company’s business and otherwise”.

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By GlobalData

Scott’s arrest comes at a critical time for Exxon as the company continues advanced talks to buy shale producer Pioneer Natural Resources for up to $60bn. If successful, the acquisition would be Exxon’s biggest deal since its $81bn merger with Mobil in 1998.

The Pioneer acquisition would make Exxon the biggest player in the Permian, with production capacity from the basin expected to reach up to 1.2 million barrels of oil equivalent per day. However, talks could still fail, sources close to the matter said.