By Scott Wright

NORTH Sea heavyweight EnQuest is on the hunt for a new chairman.

The company, which holds stakes in the giant Magnus, Kraken and Golden Eagle fields, said Martin Houston had notified the board of his intention to step down as non-executive chairman.

Mr Houston, who is departing to focus on other business interests, has been chairman of EnQuest since October 1, 2019. The company will now begin looking for a successor, stating that the timing of Mr Houston’s departure will be confirmed when his replacement is lined up.

EnQuest highlighted the progress it has made under Mr Houston’s chairmanship, citing the reduction of year-end net debt to $1.22 billion – its lowest level since 2014. It added that the company has made three acquisitions during his tenure, including a near-30 per cent stake in the North Sea’s Golden Eagle asset from Canada’s Suncor for $375 million (£275m).

In May, the company underlined its “long-term commitment to the North Sea” as it declared its largest activity programme since 2014 was “well under way”. It said it remains on track to deliver its 2022 net production target of 44,000 to 51,000 barrels of oil equivalent in 2022, having achieved net production of 50,361 boepd in the four months to the end of April. In March, the company reported it had returned to the black, helped by a huge boost to cash generation from the soaring price of oil and gas.

Amjad Bseisu, chief executive of EnQuest, said: “On behalf of the board and the management team, I would like to thank Martin for his diligent contribution to EnQuest. With his extensive experience and industry knowledge, he has provided valuable support to EnQuest during the difficult years spanning the pandemic.”

Mr Houston said: “I have much enjoyed leading the EnQuest board, but now is the right time to focus on my wider portfolio of companies in the sector."

“Over the last three years, EnQuest has made significant progress, despite the challenges of the pandemic and commodity price volatility. With a strengthened and diversified board, I believe EnQuest is well positioned for the next phase of its journey.”