O'Cathain Steps Down as Afren's Chief
Afren Plc's board on Tuesday accepted the resignation of Brian O'Cathain as the company's Chief Executive. O'Cathain is leaving the company for personal reasons and will be returning to live full-time in Ireland.
The board has named Osman Shahenshah, one of Afren's founders and a former Chief Financial Officer, to succeed O'Cathain.
As a demonstration of O'Cathain's confidence in Afren's ability to continue its rapid growth and shareholder value creation, he has proposed--and the board has agreed--that he will maintain a significant shareholding in the Company for at least one year from the date of the agreement.
The board also announced the appointment of Evert Jan Mulder as an Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer and Didier Lechartier as Head of New Ventures.
Evert Jan Mulder has worked within the international Oil & Gas industry for almost 25 years, including positions within Addax Petroleum, Shell, Weatherford and Halliburton. Mulder has significant Nigerian experience having worked with both Addax Petroleum and Shell in Nigeria. He was most recently the Chief Operating Officer of Addax Petroleum (AXC.TO), Nigeria's largest independent oil producer. Whilst at Addax Petroleum, he was responsible for increasing the daily average oil production from 30,000 bopd to 75,000 bopd in 24 months, while maintaining reserves. He coordinated the planning and implementation of Okwori, Addax's first green field development using an FPSO and new subsea well technology. Mulder spent over 10 years with the Shell group holding various senior positions including Head of Commercial Planning, Nigeria and Head of Production Technology for Shell Expro in the UK. He was also formerly the Business Development Manager and the Global Manager of Reservoir Description for Halliburton.
Didier Lechartier has over 18 years experience within the international Oil & Gas industry, with significant exposure to Congo Brazzaville, where Afren recently acquired a stake in the onshore La Noumbi exploration permit. Mr Lechartier was formerly the Business Development Director for Maurel et Prom, France's largest independent oil company. He was also responsible for the production start up of the M'boundi field, one of Africa's largest onshore fields, currently producing over 50,000 bopd.
Mulder and Lechartier further strengthen the existing management team and bring invaluable experience in ensuring the Company achieves its target of producing 15,000 to 20,000 bopd by early 2008, while continuing to exploit and expand Afren's diversified portfolio.
Executive Management Team
Rilwanu Lukman, Chairman, will continue to lead Afren in building a pan-African portfolio of upstream assets and oversee Afren's relationships with African governments and national oil companies.
Shahenshah was one of the three members of the founding team at Afren, alongside Lukman. As Chief Executive, Shahenshah will be responsible in particular for Afren's strategic and financial development and will be supported by Jeremy Whitlock, Financial Controller and Galib Virani, Head of Acquisitions and Investor Relations.
Mulder will be responsible for the technical and operational development of the Company. As Chief Operating Officer, Mulder will be supported by a technical team led by Nick Johnson, Head of Exploration and Production and Alan Hunt, Project Manager for the Okoro Setu development, along with Lechartier in his role as Head of New Ventures.
Egbert Imomoh, Managing Director of Afren's Nigerian subsidiary ("Afren Nigeria"), is being appointed as Executive Chairman of Afren Nigeria and will continue to direct the Company's operations in Nigeria. Both Lukman and Egbert Imomoh are supported by Constantine Ogunbiyi, an Associate Director of the Company and a Director of Afren Nigeria.
The International Advisory Board comprising Brian Ward, formerly the Regional Chief Executive for Shell E&P Africa and Ennio Sganzerla, formerly Regional VP for ENI Africa will continue to support the development of the Company, in addition to John St John as Strategic Financial Advisor.
Corporate Update and Outlook
Since the Company's listing in March 2005, Afren has rapidly expanded its portfolio and currently has a diversified portfolio of nine assets in Nigeria, Gabon, Congo Brazzaville, Angola and the Joint Development Zone of Nigeria Sao Tome and Principe.
Following the successful two well appraisal drilling program in Q4 2006 - Afren's first as technical operator - a nine month development drilling program on the Okoro Setu project is scheduled to commence in Q3 2007 using the Global Santa Fe Adriatic VI drilling unit.
The Company is now entering an important second phase of its growth strategy, the actual development and production of proven oil & gas fields. The management team - with a strengthened development and production focus - is well placed for this next phase and to realize Afren's near term target of 15,000-20,000 bopd of production by early 2008. In addition, Afren will continue to utilise its African relationships to continue to grow its diversified portfolio with the overall aim of creating substantial shareholder value.
Lukman said: "Brian has made a significant contribution to the development of Afren and I would like to thank him on behalf of Afren's Board and shareholders for his leadership over the last two years. I am delighted that Osman Shahenshah will be moving to the role of Chief Executive. Osman's wealth of experience in strategic oil & gas finance and mergers and acquisitions will be instrumental to the Company's future as we seek to further build out our existing African portfolio of nine assets in five countries in a consolidating market."
Shahenshah commented: "I am delighted to assume the role of Chief Executive of Afren and to continue to accelerate the growth which the company has enjoyed since coming to the public markets in 2005. A critical component of our next phase of growth is the commercialization of our existing development portfolio and I believe that Evert Jan Mulder, Afren's newly appointed Chief Operating Officer, will be invaluable in helping the company achieve its target of first oil in early 2008. In addition, the experience of Didier Lechartier will be central in the expansion of the company's regional portfolio and I look forward to working with the expanded management team."
O'Cathain said: "I am honoured to have been associated with the growth of Afren over the last two years, and proud of what the team has achieved. The Company has an exciting future, and I look forward to seeing the milestone of first oil production from Afren's portfolio in early 2008. I have very much enjoyed working closely with Osman during this period, and I have every confidence in his ability to continue the development of Afren."
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