Andrew Austin quits IGas as company cuts 25% of workforce

The chief executive and co-founder of IGas, Andrew Austin, is stepping down from the board, the company announced this morning. It also gave details of cuts of more than 25% to its workforce and consultants.

Yesterday the company announced it had completed the agreement which makes INEOS the operator in  four IGas licence areas in central Scotland and north west England.

Mr Austin, who has been with IGas for more than 10 years, was one of the first oil industry executives to use the phrase “social licence”. Under his leadership, the company saw protests, sometimes violent, outside its site at Barton Moss in Salford, There were also protection camps outside sites in Cheshire.

This morning, Mr Austin said IGas was “entering a new phase of execution, well-funded by its partners and with a stable production base.”

He will be replaced by the current chief financial officer, Stephen Bowler, who said he was excited about the opportunity.

In the past year the Gas share price has fallen from a high of more than 140p to a low in January of 19.5p. This morning it rose just over 1p to 30.81. On 24th April, Mr Austin owned nearly 11 million IGas shares, or 3.69% of the company.

In a separate statement, IGas said it had made the “difficult, but necessary, decision” to reduce the size of its workforce and the number of consultants employed. It said there would be a reduction in headcount of more than 25%.

Among the closures will be Dart’s office in Stirling. IGas took over Dart last year. The former chairman of Dart Energy, Rob Neale, will not joining the main board in what IGas described as a “cost reduction measure”.

IGas said at 31st March 2015, the company had cash of £19.0 million and net debt of £90.9 million.

Under the farm-out agreement with Ineos, IGas received £30 million in cash. INEOS will become the operator of PEDLs 133, 145 and 193 and EXL 273.

IGas also gave details of it plans for north-west England and the East Midlands. “This will include seismic acquisition, multi-well drilling, hydraulic fracturing; and early commercialisation”, it said. “In the North West, we continue to progress site identification and seismic acquisition. Planning is ongoing for the 3D seismic survey in the North Dee area with work expected to commence in the next few months.”

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