One of Scotland's leading oil and gas executives, Graham Stewart can claim the unusual distinction of also being a big name on the rock music scene in the Faroe Islands.

When work commitments allow Mr Stewart plays guitar with Hjarnar, a rock band that is renowned in the island grouping from which his mother hails.

The highlights of last year for Mr Stewart included gigging with Hjarnar in front of a crowd of thousands on one of the eponymous islands and helping the Faroe Petroleum business he runs increase its reserves by 450% to 24 million barrels oil equivalent.

On Thursday, Faroe Petroleum moved to quell a shareholder rebellion at its annual meeting by withdrawing a resolution to approve a new executive incentive plan which had drawn criticism.

The 51-year obviously feels huge affection for the Faroes, which lie between Norway and Iceland and where he did much of his growing up.

"It's a bit of a wild west of a place," says Stewart, whose father was a bacteriologist at Heriot- Watt university. "It was just fascinating. As a youngster, a teenager having left Scotland, which is a pretty conservative place, and going to the Faroes, which isn't, is very Scandinavian.

"Although it's obviously in the middle of nowhere it's a pretty fun place to be, very lively music scene, which was my greatest interest that was what grabbed me. And the opportunity to earn good money because it was easy to get work on fishing boats. I fished, I worked in a shipyard, I also worked as an English teacher, as a guitar teacher."

Hjarnar came close to the big time when it was offered a record contract by Polydor. But this was when it became apparent that not all band members were singing from the same song sheet.

"We kind of fell out with our manager and the whole proposition of some of the guys leaving Faroe and all of a sudden taking this really, really seriously didn't appeal to them all unfortunately so it was a bit of a parting of the ways," explains Mr Stewart.

But, he adds: "It was great, I don't regret a second of it. Would we have made it, could we have made it? I guess we probably could have but so many others think they could have and don't. It's a really precarious industry to try and pursue a career in.

"I'm getting the best of it now. I'm still playing but not having to live off it."

It may be relatively easy for the offshore engineering graduate to be philosophical given the success of Aberdeen-based Faroe Petroleum.

As the founding chief executive of the company, Mr Stewart has led a growth drive which has involved the company amassing interests in Norway and the UK as well as in Faroese waters. Besides achieving a five-fold increase in reserves, Faroe Petroleum grew core profits to £41 mil-lion in 2011 from £6m in 2010. The Aim-listed company has a capitalisation of around £330m.

Mr Stewart, who learned about turning success with the drill bit into hard cash at Dana Petroleum with Tom Cross, attributes the company's success in 2011 to two plum deals that it agreed in 2010.

"What powered it in particular was the Maria oil discovery we made in 2010 [in the Norwegian Sea], which was a very good quality discovery in an area that was of interest to a lot of companies, close to infrastructure. That allowed us to negotiate a very good trade."

The company swapped its stake in Maria for producing assets held by Norway's Petoro, which held around 14 million barrels of reserves.

"We were very pleasantly surprised at the nature of the offer from Petoro. You effectively move from being a 30% holder in a discovery where a lot of work is required, a lot of appraisal and development capital has to be invested. We jumped straight from that into production so we cut out the middle step."

Mr Stewart observes: "That is what has propelled us forward, people can now see that you can actually realise hard value for exploration quite quickly."

He also highlights the acquisition of an interest in the Blane oil field in the UK North Sea from Eni, for a headline £60m price.

"We agreed the terms in 2010 and completed last May and it's already paid for. We still have over four million barrels in the field, free. It's producing around 1500 barrels per day and because we have tax losses carried forward we're not paying any tax on those barrels."

One downside of getting bigger may be that every aspect of the company's operations attracts great scrutiny, not least executive pay policies.

Corporate governance activists at Sharesoc and Manifest raised concerns about a new management incentive scheme that put executives in line for options that would be awarded at no cost, based primarily on movements in Faroes' share price rather than its operating performance.

At Thursday's meeting, Faroe said following talks with its larger shareholders it intended to make a number of changes to the proposed scheme.

The chairman of the Remuneration Committee, Tim Read, said the context of management incentivisation had "clearly changed over the last few weeks", apparently referring to the so-called "shareholder spring". He said Faroe wanted to re-align the plan with current shareholder sentiment.

The ebullient Mr Stewart, however, does not appear to be the kind of person who worries about having a high profile.

He does not seem concerned either that the company seems to have made limited progress in its work off the Faroes themselves. It has been in four wells but has made no commercial finds.

Mr Stewart highlights the geological challenges that Faroe faces when exploring in what is a frontier area.

"The challenge there has been principally the Basalt and the difficulty in determining how thick it is and what lies beneath it ... so it's been very difficult to work with," he explains.

"Statoil and ExxonMobil are drilling a well there this summer which will be the latest sub-basalt well and maybe they will unlock the puzzle with that and if they do everything changes."

Faroe Petroleum's experts are scouring information on other areas that the Faroese authorities have provided. Mr Stewart has spent years developing relationships in the country to ensure the company is seen as a partner rather than an outsider looking for a fast buck.

"The Faroes is not dead, we are still there," he concludes.

Meanwhile, the company has lots to do elsewhere. It has built a big position in Norway where generous tax breaks encourage firms to invest in exploration.

Mr Stewart is keen to increase activity in UK waters, especially West of Shetland where the company has made a discovery. He says the concessions in the 2012 Budget should boost investment in the North Sea but more needs to be done.

The company is looking into other areas. It may make a second attempt to acquire acreage off Greenland, which Mr Stewart says is in the company's "bailliewick".

The oil and gas man recognises that the company may attract bid interest. "We've got the potential to grow something much bigger than it is today. It would be a pity if we were stopped prematurely but it could happen," he says.

Faroe Petroleum would be an obvious fit for Centrica. Cairn Energy recently paid $450m for Norway's Agora Oil and Gas. However, Korea's KNOC, which acquired a 23% stake in Faroe when it bought Dana Petroleum, could play a key role in deciding the outcome of any bid.

Whatever happens Mr Stewart, whose personal ambition is to play with the great Eric Clapton, will remain a guitar man.