Nato a Milano, è Amministratore Delegato di Eni da maggio 2014. È componente del Consiglio Generale e dell’Advisory Board di Confindustria e Consigliere di Amministrazione della Fondazione Teatro alla Scala. È membro del National Petroleum Council. È uno dei CEO fondatori della Oil and Gas Climate Initiative ed è stato insignito dall’Atlantic Council del Distinguished Business Leadership Award 2022.
Inizia la sua carriera in Eni nel 1981 come Ingegnere di giacimento. Successivamente diventa Project Manager per lo sviluppo delle attività nel Mare del Nord, in Libia, Nigeria e Congo. Nel 1990 è nominato Responsabile delle attività operative e di giacimento in Italia.
Nel 1994 assume il ruolo di Managing Director della consociata Eni in Congo e nel 1998 diventa Vice Chairman & Managing Director di Naoc, la consociata Eni in Nigeria. Dal 2000 al 2001 ricopre la carica di Direttore dell’area geografica Africa, Medio Oriente e Cina. Dal 2002 al 2005 è nominato Direttore dell’area geografica Italia, Africa e Medio Oriente, ricoprendo inoltre il ruolo di Consigliere di Amministrazione di diverse consociate Eni dell’area.
Nel 2005 diventa Vice Direttore Generale di Eni - Divisione Exploration & Production. Dal 2006 al 2014 è stato Presidente di Assomineraria. Dal 2008 al 2014 è stato Chief Operating Officer di Eni - Divisione Exploration & Production. Dal 2010 al 2014 ha ricoperto la carica di Presidente di Eni UK.
Nel 2012 Claudio Descalzi è il primo europeo, nel settore dell'Oil & Gas, ad aver ricevuto il prestigioso premio internazionale SPE/AIME “Charles F. Rand Memorial Gold Medal 2012” dalla Society of Petroleum Engineers e dall’American Institute of Mining Engineers (AIME).
Claudio Descalzi è Visiting Fellow of the University of Oxford.
Nel 2014 ha fondato insieme ad altri CEO la Oil and Gas Climate Initiative, per guidare la risposta del settore ai cambiamenti climatici.
Nel dicembre 2015 entra a far parte del "Global Board of Advisors del Council on Foreign Relations".
Nel dicembre 2016 è stato insignito della Laurea Honoris Causa in Ingegneria per l'Ambiente e il Territorio presso la facoltà di Ingegneria dell’Università degli Studi di Roma Tor Vergata.
Nel maggio 2022 è stato insignito dall’Atlantic Council del Distinguished Business Leadership Award 2022 per il ruolo straordinario assunto nel settore energetico a livello internazionale, per la trasformazione tecnologica dell’azienda orientata alla completa decarbonizzazione entro il 2050 e per il contributo portato alla sicurezza energetica italiana ed europea.
Si è laureato in Fisica nel 1979 presso l'Università degli Studi di Milano.
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