Stephen Bowler, who has been chief executive of IGas for the past seven years, is leaving immediately by mutual consent.
A statement from the company this morning said Chris Hopkinson, the non-executive chairman, had been appointed interim executive chairman.
Mr Bowler said:
“It has been a privilege to have been involved with IGas for so many years and to have worked with so many dedicated and talented employees. Whilst I am disappointed not to be part of the business going forwards, I am leaving the company on a firm financial footing, remain a shareholder and look forward to the Company’s continued progress.”
IGas is one of the leading companies with licences for shale gas exploration in England.
Earlier this month, the company’s development director, Ros Glover, told the FT streamlining rules around planning and permitting would be crucial to future development of shale gas. He said: “We are not saying get rid of all the regulation, what we are saying is we need to have a proper discussion about how we accelerate the projects.”
Since become chief executive, in May 2015, Mr Bowler oversaw successful planning applications to explore for shale gas at Misson and Tinker Lane in Nottinghamshire.
But planning permission at the Misson site expired in November 2020 and an application to extend the life of the site was refused. The Tinker Lane well failed to find the Bowland Shale and the site was restored in 2019.
IGas is currently the second biggest UK onshore oil producer. Its sites at Welton in Lincolnshire, and Singleton and Stockbridge in the Weald rank second, third and fourth in the UK top 20 UK oil fields. Together they represent just over 7% of UK onshore production.
Before becoming chief executive, Mr Bowler was IGas’s chief financial officer for nearly three and a half years. He previously worked for the investment bank RBS Hoare Govett and accountants Touche Ross.
IGas shares fell 5% this morning to 85p. But over the past year they have risen more than 500% from a low of 13.55p. They peaked at 106.50p on Thursday 8 September 2022, when Liz Truss announced she was lifting the embargo on fracking.
The company said this morning it was “entering into a new phase where “the technical aspects of managing its assets” and “redirecting its portfolio” towards helping greater UK energy security were “rapidly becoming more pressing”.
IGas has been seeking permission for grey hydrogen production at two sites in Surrey. It has also announced plans for battery storage at Welton and has interests in solar and geothermal energy.
“Mr Hopkinson’s technical background and extensive experience in onshore gas operations, with difficult-to-recover reserves and mature assets will be of great assistance in increasing the Company’s momentum in these areas.”
IGas also announced it had appointed Frances Ward as chief financial officer and a board director of the company. Ms Ward joined IGas in 2017 as group financial controller and took over as finance director in July 2020.
Also this morning, IGas released its interim accounts for the six months to the end of June 2022. More on this on DrillOrDrop soon.