VAALCO Energy Inc. named George Maxwell CEO on April 12, replacing its current top exec as part of the Houston-based company’s newly launched strategy.

Maxwell has over 25 years of experience in the oil and gas industry, including founding Eland Oil & Gas Plc, a Nigeria-focused E&P company, in 2009. Initially CFO of Eland, he was appointed the company’s CEO in 2014, a position he held until its sale to Seplat Petroleum Development Co. in 2019.

George Maxwell VAALCO Energy
George Maxwell

In a statement, the VAALCO board said it believes Maxwell’s track record of founding, building and selling a successful African energy company plus his strong ties to the European, American and African capital market communities will complement and accelerate the company’s ability to achieve its new strategy of enhancing its corporate presence in London, which it says is the “primary financial and advisory hub for African energy companies.

“We are excited to begin the next chapter of VAALCO’s 35-year history with our decision to increase our presence in the U.K. and international markets, a move that we believe will support VAALCO’s ambition to maximize shareholder returns,” Andrew Fawthrop, VAALCO’s board chairman, said in a statement. “We are very fortunate to have George Maxwell serve as our new CEO as he has significant experience serving in executive leadership positions, a proven track record in corporate and M&A activities and strong ties to the London investment community.”

VAALCO intends to open a business development office in London and appoint a permanent CFO who will be based in this new London office. Maxwell expects to split his time equally between Houston and London. He currently resides in the U.K., according to a company release.

In a statement commenting on his appointment, Maxwell, who had joined the VAALCO board as a non-executive director in June 2020, said: “I’m excited by this opportunity to build on a successful foundation and lead the existing teams to grow the company to the next level. ... I remain wholly committed to our roots and investor base in the U.S., and believe that our expanded presence in the U.K. financial and advisory markets maximizes opportunities for us to achieve our stated strategy.”

Maxwell’s appointment as CEO of VAALCO took effect April 12. He will continue to serve as a member of the board.

Cary Bounds, who has served as CEO since 2016, will leave VAALCO to pursue other interests, the company release said.

In his statement, Fawthrop also thanked Bounds years of service to VAALCO including guiding the company through some challenging periods for the industry to emerge even stronger.

“He oversaw the highly successful 2019/2020 drilling program and the very accretive Sasol acquisition, the combination of which has grown production and reserves considerably and positioned VAALCO for significant cash flow in 2021,” he said.

“We wish Cary the best in the next phase of his career,” he added.

Founded in 1985, VAALCO is an independent energy company with production, development and exploration assets in the West African region. According to its release, the company is an established operator within the West African region, holding a 63.6% participating interest in the Etame Marin block, located offshore Gabon, which to date has produced over 120 million barrels of crude oil.

Maxwell noted VAALCO’s positions in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea provide exciting development opportunities to enhance its business and provide a strong platform for investors. 

“In this current and future market environment, I believe it is paramount that businesses are sustainable in order to provide benefits to all stakeholders, with a focus on growth and investor returns,” he said. “This is one of the guiding principles I successfully applied in my previous executive role and I believe VAALCO is in an excellent position to ultimately achieve this.”

Prior to founding Eland, Maxwell had worked at Addax Petroleum and ABB Oil & Gas with responsibilities for Europe and Africa. He currently serves as a non-executive director on the board of LEKOIL Plc, a publicly traded Africa-focused E&P company with interests in Nigeria and Namibia, but plans to step down from this position to focus on his role at VAALCO, according to the company release.

Maxwell graduated from Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen with a Masters in Business Administration. He is a Fellow of the Energy Institute in the U.K. and has formerly served on the boards of directors of Elcrest Exploration and Production Nigeria Ltd. and Westport Oil Ltd.