Plains All American Pipeline LP (NYSE: PAA) executive Dan Nerbonne died suddenly on Dec. 31, CEO Willie Chiang told employees in a letter included in the company’s SEC statement.

Senior Vice President Phil Smith will take over the responsibilities of Nerbonne, who was executive vice president of operations and engineering, on an interim basis and will report directly to Chiang.

Nerbonne, 61, a 13-year veteran of the company, had been instrumental in developing and advancing the Plains asset integrity management program as well as its operations management system, Chiang said.

“Dan was a man of character and integrity who always strived to do the right thing,” Chiang said. “He will be greatly missed.”