Genel Energy has switched chief executive, with Murat Ozgul stepping aside to be replaced by Bill Higgs.

The London and Oslo-listed player, which primarily focuses on Iraqi Kurdistan, said on Monday that Ozgul has stepped down from the post with immediate effect, but is staying on as special adviser to the board until early next year.

Higgs joined the company as chief operating officer in October 2017. He spent 23 years at US supermajor Chevron and was also chief operating officer at UK independent Ophir Energy and chief executive at UK junior Mediterranean Oil & Gas.

Ozgul, who became chief executive in 2015, said: “It has been a pleasure to have worked with all of our stakeholders and everyone at Genel as CEO.

“I am delighted that the company is in such a strong position and is generating sufficient cash flow from assets in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq that Genel can both ramp up investment in growth, initiate a material and sustainable dividend policy, and still generate material free cash flow.”

Chairman Stephen Whyte said of Ozgul’s departure: “Murat has made an invaluable contribution to the development of Genel. He was integral to the signing of the Receivable Settlement Agreement, which transformed the company’s financial prospects, and we look forward to continue working with him as we progress the Bina Bawi licence.”

Whyte added that Higgs “is the right person to continue growing the company and delivering on our strategy, as we look to provide investors with a compelling proposition combining both growth and a material annual return”.