UK junior SDX Energy is on the hunt for a new chief executive after Paul Welch quit.

The London-listed player, which focuses on Egypt and Morocco, said on Friday that Welch "will be resigning as a director, and as president and chief executive officer, of the company with effect from May 31, 2019".

No reason was given for the sudden decision to exit.

Chief financial officer Mark Reid will take over as interim chief executive "as part of an ongoing succession plan".

SDX warned in early April of another potential delay to first gas at South Disouq onshore concession in northern Egypt, where start-up was most recently being targeted for mid-year.

The target is based on having an early production facility (EPF) leased in order to process produced gas prior to completion of the main central gas processing facility.

However, as of early April, the commercial terms of the EPF had not been agreed.

The company in August last year said it was targeting start-up at South Disouq, which is situated in the Nile Delta, late in the fourth quarter of 2018.

On Monday, the company confirmed that first gas is now not expected until the fourth quarter this year.

SDX has been aiming for a gross plateau production rate of between 50 million cubic feet per day and 60 MMcfd from South Disouq.

On Monday, it said the gross plateau rate is now seen at around 50 MMcfd by the first quarter of 2020, "after an initial ramp-up phase".

Shares in the company were down almost 12% just after 8am on Friday.

In the company's first-quarter result announcement on Friday, chairman Michael Doyle thanked Welch for "his hard work in growing SDX".

"We are also grateful to Mark for taking over as interim chief executive.

"Mark’s focus will be to ensure the delivery of our key operational targets at the South Disouq development in Egypt and the upcoming Morocco drilling campaign through the use and optimisation of the liquidity that we have available in the company today," Doyle added.

"It is important that the market now has an updated view of how our assets will contribute to the business in the coming months, and our restated guidance today does this.

"Our focused well programme in Morocco and our commitment to ensure that South Disouq commences production in the fourth quarter of 2019, before any further drilling takes place in this concession, emphasises our commitment to capital and fiscal discipline in the business going forward.

"That said, we are very much looking forward to recommencing drilling in Morocco and South Disouq during 2019/20, and we hope to continue with the successes we have had to date in both locations."

SDX also said it plans to drill up to five exploration wells at South Disouq next year, subject to partner approval.

"The company is proposing to drill two further exploration wells in 2020 prior to the concession expiry on March 20, 2020," it said.

"These wells will be targeting conventional gas prospects identified on the company’s 3D seismic over the concession in the Abu Madi and Kafr el Sheik horizons where the company has already made four discoveries from five wells drilled.

"Depending on the results of these two wells, the partnership may decide to drill a further two/three exploration wells, again targeting Abu Madi and Kafr el Sheik prospectivity, and thus utilise the automatic six month extension to the concession expiry date to September 20, 2020 which is available if drilling operations are ongoing at the end of the prescribed concession expiry date."