Premier Oil head of legal quits

Energy group Premier Oil is losing its head of legal and senior lawyer as the company struggles to cope with a loss of millions of pounds.

Claudia Keenan, head of legal and company secretary, and Nick Shepherd, senior lawyer both accepted voluntary redundancy after the company announced its intention to reduce overheads and cut costs.

The energy group recently announced a net loss of £137.2m in its 1998 preliminary results, which coincided with a 10 per cent reduction in Premier employees, excluding consultants.

Keenan and Shepherd have been at the firm for nine years and five years respectively and will leave behind two lawyers in the department.

A source says a replacement is being sought to take on both of the vacated roles, stating: “Keenan and Shepherd opted to leave so that people who have not been at the company that long have the option of staying.”

The move to reduce the work force was first broached in September last year when, according to a source, the management brought in a consultant to advise on a restructure.

Keenan says: “Nick and I are leaving Premier to pursue other opportunities. We are leaving on excellent terms and we wish the company every success.”

Premier recently hit the headlines after Peter Felter, head of energy at Clyde & Co announced his intention to oust the management board at the group and replace it with his own line up.

However a source stressed that the departures have nothing to do with Felter's intentions towards Premier: “It is about reducing overheads and debt.”

The source adds: “The oil industry as a whole has suffered, but things could improve in the future. Who knows what could happen.”

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