Board overhaul at explorer Petroceltic

Two former executives of defunct Russian oil company Yukos Oil have joined the board of Irish explorer Petroceltic.

The development forms part of the overhaul of the Dublin-based company’s board, as agreed with its main independent shareholder, Swiss investment firm, Worldview, in return for voting in favour of its recently contentious $100m (€73m) share placing.

In light of that, Petroceltic said last month that it would be lowering the size of its board from nine to seven, with a greater emphasis on non-executive members.

Chief financial officer Tom Hickey and chief operating officer David Thomas have stepped down from the board (both will retain day-to-day positions), as have non-executive members Hugh McCutcheon and Rob Arnott.

Joining the board are new non-executive members Don Wolcott and Joe Mach who have been recommended by Worldview, which now owns a 20% stake in Petroceltic.

Mr Wolcott was CEO of London-listed, Russian-focused explorer Ruspetro from 2011 to 2013, while Mr Mach was a non-executive director of the company in the same period.

Both men also held senior executive roles with Yukos Oil, the Moscow-headquartered company which went bankrupt in 2006 and whose founder, Mikhail Khodorkovsky (once Russia’s wealthiest man) went to jail for a decade after being convicted of fraud. Mr Mach served as first vice-president responsible for exploration and production, at Yukos, from 1999 to 2006; while Mr Wolcott worked for Yukos from 1999 to 2005 as senior vice-president responsible for all aspects of production and reservoir performance.

Mr Wolcott will also serve on Petroceltic’s audit and nominations committee, while Mr Mach will join the remuneration committee.


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