Executive of company pursuing major North Slope oil project suddenly resigns

A man poses for a photograph in a white button-up shirt.
Oil Search Alaska President Keiran Wulff. (Photo by Elizabeth Harball/Alaska’s Energy Desk)

The managing director of the Papua New Guinea-based company working on a major oil project on Alaska’s North Slope has resigned.

Oil Search’s Keiran Wulff led the Pikka project for more than three years.

The company announced Monday that Wulff had suddenly stepped down from his job.

On a financial call, Oil Search Chairman Rick Lee said Wulff was leaving due to health issues. But, he also said the board was investigating a whistleblower’s complaint into Wulff’s behavior.

“This unacceptable behavior was inconsistent with the standards required under the company’s code of conduct,” Lee said. “Dr. Wulff has acknowledged the impact his behavior has had on others.”

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Lee said he could not describe Wulff’s behavior that led to the complaint, citing confidentiality requirements. He also said he could not comment further on Wulff’s illness, describing it as a deteriorating, long-term medical condition.

It’s unclear what Wulff’s resignation will mean for the future of the Pikka project.

Oil Search spokeswoman Amy Burnett said the company’s plans have not changed.

“We are continuing to advance Pikka toward a final investment decision targeted for later this year and first oil targeted for 2025,” she said in an email.

However, on Monday’s call, Lee said there was no set timeline.

“We’re not absolutely wedded to a date, we are wedded to a structure for funding, and we’ve got to get that right,” he said.

Oil Search is working on the project with Repsol. The companies estimate that Pikka could produce 80,000 barrels of oil a day, starting in 2025.

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