(Adds analyst, Durrant comments, background)
LONDON, June 25 Premier Oil, the North
Sea and South East Asian-focused oil and gas explorer, has
promoted finance director Tony Durrant to chief executive with
immediate effect, the firm said on Wednesday.
Durrant succeeds Simon Lockett, who announced his departure
in February after pressure from shareholders following two
downgrades to production guidance.
"Tony will provide continuity and stability and knows the
company very well. He is certainly a safe pair of hands to
execute the company strategy," said Stephane Foucaud, director
of institutional research at FirstEnergy.
Premier Oil said it had shortlisted a number of internal and
external candidates to head the energy firm. The board
unanimously backed Durrant's appointment.
Durrant joined Premier in June 2005 and has served as
finance director since then.
Before that, he worked at Lehman Brothers, latterly as
managing director and head of the European Natural Resources
Premier struggled to hit production targets last year,
downgrading forecasts twice due to problems at projects in the
North Sea and Vietnam.
The company has performed better so far this year with a 13
percent rise in first-quarter production putting it on track to
meet its 2014 output target of 58,000-63,000 barrels of oil
equivalent per day.
Durrant said in a statement that he intended to maintain the
group's recent momentum and would update shareholders about
Premier's next stage of development "in due course".
Premier and its partners have also secured a rig for their
2015 drilling programme in the Falklands and the British
government recently approved its North Sea Catcher area fields.
(Reporting by Karolin Schaps and James Davey; Editing by Erica