David Knox, the chairman of London-listed player i3 Energy, is stepping down from his role with the North Sea-focused explorer to purse renewables in Australia.

Knox, who previously held roles with Australian operator Santos and UK supermajor BP, at the start of the year took on a job as chair of Snowy Hydro, Australia's largest renewable energy provider.

After nearly three years as the chairperson of i3 Energy, he is stepping down to ensure he has the capacity to focus on this new role during a critical and trying time in Australia, according to the company.

Linda Beal, i3 Energy’s non-executive director, will become interim chairperson as the company conducts a formal search to replace Knox.

“The entire team at i3 extends its thanks to David for his stewardship of the company since its listing onto AIM in 2017. He has been a 'hands-on' leader and has been critical in our decision-making process, and he will be greatly missed,” Majid Shafiq, chief executive of i3 Energy said.

Departing Knox, said: “I am pleased with what's been accomplished during my time at i3 and I'm confident that it remains in capable hands. i3 Energy has established itself as a company which is bold, innovative and working hard to extract value from its oil and gas licences.”

i3 Energy holds two assets in the UK North Sea, Serenity and Liberator, where the company contracted Fugro to conduct a site survey for its planned 2020 drilling programme.

Work commenced on the survey at the end of January and is expected to conclude during February, the company said.

“This ongoing operation will cover the remaining areas of Serenity and Liberator West's Minos High structures not covered by i3's 2019 site survey to ensure that all potential drilling locations remain targetable during the company's planned 2020 drilling campaign, which remains subject to funding,” i3 Energy said.

“The survey will enable i3 to complete the necessary permitting process for further appraisal drilling on its licences, expected to commence late summer,” it said.

“The team is very much looking forward to conducting a high-impact drilling campaign starting in late summer, and the ongoing site survey being conducted by Fugro will ensure we have the data required to appraise anywhere within the mapped extents of Serenity or Liberator,” Shafiq added.