Providence names Scottish-based oil veteran as interim CEO

Alan Curran joins explorer as its Barryroe oil and gas prospect off the coast of Cork remains in limbo

Providence Resources has named Scottish-based oil industry veteran Alan Curran as its interim chief executive, as the Irish oil and gas explorer continues to search for a permanent CEO and waits for a delayed decision on a key permit for its Barryroe project off the Cork coast.

Mr Curran’s career spans 40 years in the oil and gas industry where he has held a wide range of senior roles. Most recently, the Briton led a transformational restructuring at UK North Sea oil and gas company, Verus Petroleum.

As Verus CEO from 2014 to 2019, he was responsible for overseeing $500 million (€480 million) of acquisitions, involving finance raising activity and extensive interaction with the banking and investment communities. It culminated Verus being sold to peer in NEO Energy in 2019.

Over the last two years, Mr Curran, who is based in Aberdeenshire, led Ortus Petroleum, an investment vehicle for oil and gas exploration in northwest Europe.

Mr Curran joins Providence as the company’s Barryroe oil and gas prospect off the coast of Cork remains in limbo, amid Government delays on issuing a lease that would allow it to drill an appraisal well next year and source development funding.

Providence has had an application with Minister for Environment Eamon Ryan’s department since April last year for a lease undertaking for the field, in which it has an 80 per cent stake. Without this, the company cannot do anything on the field or go about raising the $65 million (€62 million) it estimates it needs to cover its share of a planned three-well appraisal drilling programme.

Providence has also been through a period of board and management upheaval in recent years, with its long-time CEO Tony O’Reilly jnr quitting in late 2019, following a series of failures at the company, including the collapse of two planned Barryroe development partnerships.

Barryroe, an oil and gas field about 50km off the Cork coastline, was found in 2012 to hold more than 300 million barrels of recoverable oil.

Mr O’Reilly’s successor, Alan Linn, left the company last October after less than two years. A third so-called farm-out agreement – with Norway’s SpotOn – fell through on his watch early last year.

Chairman James Menton took over as executive chairman in the wake of Linn’s exit. He has now returned to a non-executive role.

“I am delighted to be joining Providence Resources at this pivotal time for the company,” Mr Curran said. “As one of the largest undeveloped oil and gas fields offshore Europe, there is no doubt that the Barryroe field presents a unique opportunity to develop a critically important Irish source of oil and gas to substitute some of the imports that will be needed to meet ongoing demand during the energy transition.”

As a petroleum engineer, Mr Curran began his career in the 1980s with Shell and subsequently held director level roles at Oryx Energy, Kerr-McGee and Maersk Oil. In 2006, he was appointed managing director at Lundin Petroleum, before joining Wood Group as chief executive of its North Sea business in 2009. Prior to his assignment with Verus, Mr Curran held the position of chief operating officer with Iona Energy.

Joe Brennan

Joe Brennan

Joe Brennan is Markets Correspondent of The Irish Times