Phillips has agreed to stay in his current role with the company until the second half of 2007 to oversee the start of commercial oil production in the company's fourth cornerstone asset area, the Tui Area oil project in New Zealand.
AWE also advises that Bruce Wood has agreed to join the company in April 2007, initially as executive director, Business Development and subsequently succeeding Phillips as managing director in the second half of 2007.
Under Phillips' guidance, AWE has grown from a junior exploration company into Australia's sixth-largest petroleum producing company with a market capitalization of more than $A1.2 billion and producing assets in Western Australia and in both the offshore Otway and Bass basins off the Victorian coast.
"It is with obvious mixed feelings that I have decided to move on to new challenges after achieving what I set out to do with AWE nearly 10 years ago.
"However interests outside my role at AWE are taking an increasing amount of my time and will preclude me from fulfilling a 24/7 commitment in the years to come. Under such circumstances, it is in the best interest of shareholders that I make way for someone who can make such a commitment.
"Helping AWE grow to where it stands today has been immensely satisfying. The company is now in an excellent position, with a strong balance sheet, high quality assets, a good growth outlook and a talented work force guided by an experienced board of directors.
"I will miss my work at AWE, but am comforted by the fact that I will leave the company in good hands."
AWE's Chairman Bruce McKay said:
"The Board of AWE is indebted to Bruce Phillips for his exceptional contribution to the company, its shareholders and its employees. We thank him for his invaluable service: while we regret that he is moving on from AWE, we sincerely wish him all the best in his future endeavors.
"We are fortunate that Bruce Wood is joining AWE and we welcome his guiding hand through the years ahead as we consolidate the company's achievements and pursue opportunities for continued growth. Bruce Wood brings a career of significant Australian and international industry experience with BHP Petroleum, Shell, Triton Energy, his own consultancy Gas Strategies, Santos and most recently as CEO of Delhi Petroleum. Outside Australia, he has worked in Holland, France, USA and Central America as well as being involved in business development activities in Indonesia.
"The Board remains committed to improving the value of AWE and delivering increasing shareholder returns. We are confident that this planned change in executive management of the company will not detract from the continued pursuit of our objectives."
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