Thursday 17th August, 2017
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Tullow CEO Heavey steps down after building African oil explorer

Tullow CEO Heavey steps down after building African oil explorer

Aidan Heavey, an Irish ac­countant who spent three decades building Tullow Oil Plc into one of the world’s leading indepen­dent oil explorers, is stepping down as chief executive of­ficer.

Heavey, 63, who founded the com­pany in 1986 in Tullow, a town 35 miles south of Dublin, will work as chairman for no more than two years, before retir­ing, the company said Wednesday. Paul McDade, Tullow’s chief oper­ating officer for the past 12 years, will take over as CEO after the an­nual general meeting on April 26.

“The first deal I did with Aidan was in 1990 when I was at ARCO and Tullow was just a startup,” Am­jad Bseisu, CEO at North Sea ex­plorer and producer EnQuest Plc, said in an e-mail. “His persistent vision and drive has made Tullow what it is today.”

Under Heavey, Tullow’s mar­ket capitalization reached almost 14 billion pounds ($17 billion) five years ago amid a commodities boom, before collapsing to 1.5 bil­lion pounds as a slump in oil pric­es forced the industry to slash costs and shelve projects. Tullow re­bounded 89 percent last year, mak­ing it the best perform­er on the 20-member Stoxx Eu­rope 600 Oil and Gas In­dex.

“When this cycle started, I said I’d stay with the compa­ny and see it through the downturn and we’re out of that now,” Heavey said in a phone interview on Wednesday. “For me, the most important thing is to have the right person take over.”

The lack of industry investment over the past three to four years is reflected in the way oil majors are “scrambling” to buy assets now, Heavey said. Earlier this week, France’s Total SA announced it will pay Tullow $900 million for control of a Ugandan oil project.

Tullow has pioneered develop­ments across Africa. Its flagship Ju­bilee project, off the coast of Gha­na, produced 73,700 barrels a day last year, and achieving first oil in 2010 at the field was Heavey’s “most memorable” moment.