“This was an important decision for me to make after more than 10 years as CEO and managing director, but I feel that the timing is right for a change,” Underwood said.
The announcement comes just days after the troubled Perth-based mid-cap’s general manager Gary Jeffery announced his own resignation from the company.
While Tap has not yet announced a replacement for Jeffery, it said yesterday that Underwood would be succeeded by exploration manager Peter Stickland.
Last year, Tap shed over 32% of its market capitalisation due to dwindling production and a disappointing exploration campaign at the Harriet Joint Venture, in the offshore Carnarvon Basin.
However, Underwood said he was leaving Tap Oil in “solid shape” for Stickland.
“The company is well cashed up to realise the fruits of its most intensive ever 12 months work on new ventures,” he said.
“Expected new permit interests will position the company for the potential of significant growth that will bolster Tap’s current production interests.”
As part of the succession plan, Stickland has been appointed deputy CEO until he assumes the CEO role on January 1.
Stickland, a geologist, has more than 16 years experience in oil and gas exploration –formerly with BHP Billiton and the last two years with Tap.
“Peter Stickland has the technical, business and leadership skills to find new discoveries and growth for Tap,” chairman Neale Taylor said.
“We are extremely well placed to have such an exceptional, young leader to take over from Paul and allow a smooth transition,” Taylor said.
Underwood will stay on as an executive director until June 30 and will subsequently remain on the board as a non-executive director.
“The board appreciates Paul’s sustained leadership and loyal dedication to the company since it was listed over 10 years ago,” Taylor said.
“Paul has led Tap through significant profit growth and has introduced many positive changes over the past 10 years, including pursuit of increased technical rigor, building up the company’s technical and operating capabilities, and expanding the company’s focus areas.”