NORTH Sea pioneer Algy Cluff is to step down.

The 78-year-old chairman of Cluff Natural Resources made public his plans to retire from the business in a statement, and Mark Lappin, 57, a non-executive director, was named as successor.

Mr Cluff founded the firm that discovered the Buchan field in North Sea in 1975, after having served as a Grenadier Guards captain. He moved into gold mining in Africa, making several mineral site discoveries including the Freda Rebecca Mine in Zimbabwe, the Geita Mine in Tanzania and the Ayanfuri Mine in Ghana, before returning to the oil and gas business. He started CNR in 2012.

HeraldScotland: Algy Cluff

Mr Cluff, above, said that it is “the ideal time to pass the chair to Mark, whose wealth of operational experience, particularly in the North Sea, is perfectly suited to guide the business through this next exciting phase of its development”.

He said: “I look forward to seeing our company continue to grow and prosper while enjoying the opportunity to devote more time to my other interests including my writing and the launch of a new charity, the Remembrance Trust.”

READ MORE: North Sea pioneer in shares deal with London broking magnate

Graham Swindells, CNR chief executive, said: “On behalf of the board I wish to express our utmost appreciation to Algy for his commitment to the Company since its formation.

“Algy has had a remarkable career and we are enormously grateful for his entrepreneurial spirit and advice in guiding the company. We are excited about continuing to work with Mark to build on this success and enter the next stage of the company’s growth as we seek to create further value for shareholders.”

Mr Lappin has over 35 years experience in the oil and gas industry.