DALLAS, May 30 (Reuters) - Shareholders threw more support behind Exxon Mobil Corp's executive compensation package following the world's largest publicly traded oil company's effort to seek more input on the matter.
Exxon has been more responsive to investor concerns about pay and its dividend in recent months. The company held a call with investors earlier this month to discuss its compensation practices and also raised its dividend 21 percent after numerous calls for a richer payout.
The oil company's listening campaign appears to be paying off. This year, 77.8 percent of shareholders cast a non-binding vote in favor of compensation for the company's executives, up sharply from 67.2 percent last year.
Chief Executive Officer Rex Tillerson's total compensation rose 20 percent in 2011 to $34.9 million, a year when the company's stock price was up 16 percent and profit grew 35 percent.
The higher support for Exxon's pay practices came as about 25 protesters gathered outside the annual meeting, holding signs, including one that read, "Exxon Loves Millionaires."
Shareholder proposals related to hydraulic fracturing, greenhouse gas emissions and the formation of an independent chairman were defeated by large margins.
Tillerson told the meeting the company was contemplating natural gas exports from Canada and the U.S. Gulf Coast because supplies of the fuel are more than enough to meet demand. Hefty supplies have pushed natural gas prices to their lowest in a decade.
Exxon is also building its drilling position on shale and other unconventional acreage that produce more profitable crude oil and natural gas with a high liquids content.
"We are also continuing to build our position in a number of liquids rich plays," Tillerson said.
Exxon made at $35 billion bet on natural gas when it purchased XTO Corp in 2010. Exxon is currently the largest producer of natural gas in the United States.