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Oil, Gas Boys Club of CEOs Sees Woman Join Its Ranks


(Bloomberg) — The male-dominated club of oil and gas chief executives just received a new female member.

Katherine Roe was appointed interim chief executive officer of Wentworth Resources Plc after the company announced Eskil Jersing was leaving the company with immediate effect on Wednesday. Roe will retain her role as chief financial officer.

“The stark reality is pretty shocking,” says Roe. “I am now, even in an interim role, the only female CEO currently of a listed EP.”

Roe is a rarity in an industry that has struggled to attract women to its upper echelons. Wintershall DEA’s Maria Moraeus Hanssen will leave the company at the end of this year where she is deputy CEO and chief operating officer. Last year, Fiona MacAulay stepped down from running Latin America-focused Echo Energy Plc. MacAulay now sits on the board of numerous energy companies.

Roe joined Tanzania-focused Wentworth over five years ago, having passed through merchant bank Panmure Gordon Co. and Morgan Stanley. She also sat on Faroe Petroleum Plc’s board as a non-executive director until it was taken over by DNO ASA earlier this year. As of today, Roe is rejoining ex-Faroe CEO Graham Stewart and COO Helge Hammer on the board of their new venture, Longboat Energy Ltd. as a non-executive director.

While the oil and gas industry has pushed to diversify boards in recent years, you have to hire the right person for the right job, Roe says. “Gender shouldn’t be the issue.” Bringing in women from other industries won’t solve the problem. “We need to be encouraging women from the bottom up, through the entire system, so that in time we will move the ratio from where it currently is.”

Meanwhile it’s business as usual at Wentworth’s sole asset, Mnazi Bay in Tanzania, Roe says. The concession produces 75 to 90 million cubic feet of gas a day, all of which is sold to the local market. After a difficult few years, the company is about to complete its last debt payment and it paid a dividend to its shareholders last month.

Its next move is to see how to take the business forward. “We all want growth and scale and relevance and we genuinely see a lot of medium-to-long term opportunities in Tanzania,” says Roe. “The issue is how and when do we execute on that growth.”

To contact the reporter on this story:
Laura Hurst in London at lhurst3@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story:
Alaric Nightingale at anightingal1@bloomberg.net
Christopher Sell, Helen Robertson