Taranaki oilman abruptly leaves job

ROB MAETZIG
Last updated 05:00 26/12/2013

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One of New Zealand's highest profile energy industry executives has abruptly left his job.

Chris Bush, the New Zealand country manager for Canada-headquartered New Zealand Energy Corporation and chairman of the Petroleum Exploration and Production Association of New Zealand, walked out of his New Plymouth office on Friday.

The first fellow Taranaki staff knew of Bush's abrupt departure was earlier that day.

The company's activities will now be run by its remaining senior team in New Zealand, under the oversight of Vancouver-based chief executive John Proust.

Bush and his wife are now on their yacht in Auckland, and in a telephone interview with the Taranaki Daily News he said he was relaxed about the sudden departure.

"Yep - I've finished with NZEC. I'm now on my yacht at the Westhaven marina, and I'm going to take some time out over the summer," he said.

Asked why he had left the company so abruptly on Friday, he would not comment.

"I'll leave that to work out for yourself," was all he would say.

"I've left on amicable terms. I'm not sad at all. I suppose basically we'd got to a point where NZEC and I had decided I had done most of what needed to be done, so it was time to part company."

In a statement, NZEC's Vancouver-based chief executive John Proust said Bush's skillset and focus on governance, health and safety, and operating procedures had created a corporate structure and culture that would serve the company well.

The sudden departure comes six months after NZEC announced a $41.8 million purchase of a range of onshore Taranaki oil and gas assets, including the Tariki, Waihapa and Ngaere fields, plus the Waihapa production station near Stratford.

Since then the company has begun reactivating wells in the fields, and by the beginning of this month they had flowed a total of 5500 barrels of crude oil and 6.9 million cubic feet of gas.

Bush told the Daily News he hoped he would not be lost to the energy industry.

"We'll certainly continue to live in New Plymouth, and in a little while I'll start looking around. There's certainly plenty of exciting things happening in Taranaki," he said.

Bush began his energy industry career with Synfuel and has since worked for Methanex, Natural Gas Corporation, Swift Energy and Origin Energy.

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