Oil Search Managing Director Won’t Leave for at Least 18 Months

Oil Search Ltd. (OSH) Managing Director Peter Botten said he plans to stay with the Papua New Guinea oil and gas producer for at least another 18 months as the company considers expansion opportunities.

“I won’t be leaving this organization in the short term,” Botten, 59, said today in a phone interview.

Botten, who has led Oil Search for 20 years, said he considered his role after the start earlier this year of the $19 billion liquefied natural gas project operated by Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM) He said the company is working on a succession plan and has a range of potential candidates to replace him.

The gas export project in Papua New Guinea will allow Oil Search to fund its growth plans and pay investors higher dividends, the Port Moresby-based company has said. The company expects two or three more LNG production units to be built in Papua New Guinea with the development of InterOil Corp.’s Elk and Antelope discoveries, Botten said earlier this year.

“I’ve recommitted to see the company through the next 18 months plus through a critical period of delivering and cementing the growth opportunities we see,” Botten said today. “It’s a more complicated company to run than most and clearly part of our success has been relationships and understanding of PNG processes and culture and how to work with government.”

Oil Search rose 0.4 percent to A$9.54 today in Sydney.

The company, whose market value has risen to A$14.5 billion ($13.6 billion) from about A$200 million with Botten at the helm, faces a significant “key man” risk, and replacing him could be difficult, Mark Wiseman, a Sydney-based analyst at Goldman Sachs Group Inc., said this month in a note.

Botten told the Australian Financial Review in May that he had opted to stay in his position for 12 to 18 months.

Oil Search expects the PNG LNG development to reach full production some time this year, Botten said.

To contact the reporter on this story: James Paton in Sydney at jpaton4@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jason Rogers at jrogers73@bloomberg.net Keith Gosman, Reed Landberg

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