KENYA – Tullow Oil has appointed Rahul Dhir, who currently leads smaller Africa-focused oil and gas producer Delonex, as its chief executive officer. 

Rahul will take the helm at Tullow at a time when it is slashing its headcount by a third and trying to raise US$1 billion from selling at least part of its East African assets amid a pandemic that has slashed oil demand and prices. 

Dhir, a petroleum engineer who has also worked at Cairn India and banks Morgan Stanley and Merrill Lynch, will take over on July 1, Tullow said. 

Tullow has been under the interim leadership of Executive Chairman Dorothy Thompson since previous CEO Paul McDade resigned in December after the group failed to hit production targets at flagship fields in Ghana. 

The company has also suffered from delays in getting its Kenyan and Ugandan projects onstream and lower-than-hoped-for oil quality in Guyana. 

“The company has high-quality assets and great people.  It also has a unique position in Africa, built on a proven track record of responsible operations, strong relationships and a commitment to sustainability. I am looking forward to working with the team and the Board to re-build an exceptional business,” Dhir said in a statement. 

Dhir led Cairn’s Indian unit until 2012 and in 2013 he was a founder of Delonex Energy, an Africa-focused E&P firm that subsequently made discoveries in Chad, Ethiopia and Kenya. 

In Kenya, Delonex is the operating partner in Block 12A where Tullow is also partnered. 

“I am delighted to welcome Rahul to Tullow and am very pleased that he has accepted the position of CEO,” said Dorothy Thompson, Tullow chair in a statement. 

“His oil & gas, financial and African experience combined with his record of strong leadership made him the stand-out candidate for the board.” 

Before Delonex, Mr Dhir served as managing director and CEO of Cairn India from its IPO in 2006 until 2012. His started his career as a Petroleum Engineer, before moving into investment banking where he led teams at Morgan Stanley and Merrill Lynch, advising major oil and gas companies on merger and acquisition and capital market related issues. 

Mr Dhir is a UK citizen and was educated at the Indian Institute of Technology, the University of Texas, and the Wharton School.