Sunday 22 October 2017

Circle lines up chairman candidate

Peter Flanagan

Peter Flanagan

TROUBLED exploration firm Circle Oil is apparently lining up the head of a company looking for oil around the Falkland Islands to be its new chairman.

Long-time chairman Thomas Anderson dramatically resigned amid investor unrest at the firm's annual general meeting 10 days ago, leaving board member Nick Clayton as interim chairman of the Irish company.

Now, however, Circle is believed to be canvassing investors about appointing Pierre Jungels as a permanent replacement.

Mr Jungels is the chairman of Rockhopper Exploration, which has been looking for oil and gas around the Falkland Islands in the south Atlantic.

Rockhopper's quest for minerals in the region has been a controversial one, with Argentina frequently claiming Rockhopper has drilled in Argentine waters, although there is no indication that has been the case.

The search has also raised questions about who has the right to any oil reserves that are discovered there, and made Rockhopper something of a celebrity firm within the British business press.

Mr Jungels (68) is a former chief executive of Enterprise Oil, and has been chairman of Rockhopper since 2005.

If Mr Jungels is appointed by Circle, he is likely to give the embattled company a huge shot in the arm.

Circle has struggled in recent years as it tries to move from being a pure exploration firm to a bona-fide oil producer. While it produces a small amount now, its share price has fallen by about half since 2011, despite oil prices holding steady. Most of Circle's operations are in North Africa, and the Arab Spring in the region has played havoc with the company's efforts at planning.

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