Australian gas producer Woodside’s CEO Peter Coleman to retire in 2021

FILE PHOTO: Woodside Petroleum Chief Executive Peter Coleman attends an interview with Reuters in Hong Kong, China March 29, 2017. REUTERS/Bobby Yip

(Reuters) – Australia’s Woodside Petroleum Ltd said on Tuesday that long-time Chief Executive Officer Peter Coleman will retire in the second half of 2021 and the search for a replacement has begun.

By the time Coleman retires, he would have been with Australia’s top independent gas producer for more than 10 years, having joined in May 2011.

Coleman, who spent 27 years at oil major Exxon Mobil , said it is the right time for a leadership change.

His retirement will come just as Woodside gets set to make a final investment decision on one of its biggest growth projects, the Scarborough gas project and Pluto expansion, delayed by the collapse in oil and gas prices this year, and looking to avoid having to raise equity to help fund the $11 billion-plus development.

“Retiring in 2021 ensures continuity to support the Scarborough investment decision, which will transform Woodside, while ensuring our international projects in Senegal and Myanmar maintain their positive momentum,” Coleman said in a Woodside statement to the market.

Woodside shares were down 1.1% to A$22.89 in line with other energy stocks.

The Perth-based company said it would be looking at both internal and external candidates.