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Oil Search announces leadership changes

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LNG Industry,

Oil Search has announced a number of changes to the board and board sub-committees. Mel Togolo, CBE, for instance, has been named the new Director of the Company, effective 1 October 2016. He will replace Bart Philemon, who will retire on 30 September 2016.

Togolo is currently the PNG Country Manager for Nautilus Minerals, prior to which he was Head of Corporate Affairs at Placer Dome Niugini. He was also a founding member of the Business Council of Papua New Guinea, serving as its President for over six years. At present, he is a non-executive director of NASFUND, and has previous experience serving on the boards of a number of leading PNG companies. In 2004, he was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire for services to industry and commerce in PNG.

Rick Lee, Chairman, said: “On behalf of the board, I would like to acknowledge the valuable contribution Bart has provided to the board of Oil Search since his appointment as a Director in November 2012. Bart’s vast experience in Papua New Guinea and his passion towards contributing to better outcomes for the people of PNG were greatly appreciated by the board.

Oil Search is fortunate to be able to call on the talents and experience of Mel as a very able replacement for Bart. Mel brings a wealth of knowledge on PNG from a distinguished career spanning senior roles in industry and government, not only in Papua New Guinea but also in Australia and the Solomon Islands.”

In addition to Togolo’s appointment, Ziggy Switkowski has announced that he will retire as a Director at the end of 2016 in order to focus on other board commitments. Fiona Harris, who resigned from the board in 2015, will rejoin the board upon his retirement. She has more than 20 years of experience as a non-executive director, including on various internationally-focused listed resources companies. At present, she is a non-executive director of BWP Trust and Infigen Energy Ltd.

Rick Lee said: “Ziggy has brought considerable business and strategic expertise to the Oil Search board and it is regrettable, but understandable, that he can no longer continue as a Director due to other demands. In particular, Ziggy has brought valuable learnings and insight from his diverse and highly successful career as an executive and a director to bear on the challenges and opportunities facing Oil Search.

“I have particularly appreciated Ziggy’s professional stewardship as Chairman of the People and Nominations Committee.

“We are delighted that Fiona is able to renew her association with Oil Search. As demonstrated during her prior term as a Director, Fiona’s financial expertise and strong background in corporate governance will be of great benefit to the company as we focus on the next stage of growth.”

Oil Search claims that shareholder approval for the appointment of both Harris and Togolo will be sought at the 2017 annual meeting.

Finally, the board has announced that a number of new roles have been created at the board committee level, via the appointment of suitably qualified PNG citizens as independent members. Although these members will not actually be members of the board, they will contribute to the effective functioning and execution of duties and responsibilities of the relevant board committees.

The following citizens have been named as the first independent members:

  • Richard Kuna, BBus., CPA, Audit Partner, KTK Accountants and Advisors – Independent Member of the Audit and Financial Risk Committee. Before serving in his current role, Kuna was a Partner in audit and advisory at KPMG. He serves on the boards of Changes to the Oil Search Board 2 the Bank of PNG and the PNG Government’s Central Supply & Tenders Board, is a director of Kumul Mining Ltd and is President of CPA PNG.
  • Mary Johns, LL.B, Company Secretary, Bank of South Pacific Ltd – Independent Member of the People and Nominations Committee. Johns served on the 2015 Pacific Games Organising Committee, was a committee member of the Port Moresby Chamber of Commerce and is currently the Chair of Leadership PNG.
  • Serena Sasingian Sumanop, LL.B., MBus., Principal Legal Officer, PNG Department of Justice and Attorney General – Independent Member of the Health, Safety and Sustainability Committee. Before serving in her current role, Sasingian Sumanop was a lawyer with Gadens Lawyers and was Executive Director of The Voice Inc.

Rick Lee commented: “The Oil Search Board is delighted to not only introduce this initiative but also to have identified and secured such high quality candidates to join the committees in this capacity. Richard, Mary and Serena have already had outstanding careers to date in PNG and hopefully the opportunity to work with the Oil Search board at the committee level will only add to their capabilities and knowledge as they contribute to Papua New Guinea in the future.

The board wishes them every success as independent committee members.”

Edited from press release by David Rowlands

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