Colleagues have expressed “sadness and disbelief” following the death of Eric Marston, the well-liked chief operating officer of Ancala Midstream and former Oil & Gas Authority (OGA) and BP official, at the age of 56.

The North Sea veteran died last week at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary after being diagnosed with Covid-19.

He is survived by wife Cathy, the couple’s eight-year-old daughter Emily, and son Gregor, aged 22, from a previous marriage.

After graduating from Cambridge University in 1987, Mr Marston started his career as a mechanical engineer at BP, eventually spending 28 years at the UK supermajor.

He became well-known to a wider North Sea industry audience in 2015 when he joined the then-fledgling OGA as its area manager for the southern North Sea and east Irish Sea.

'A true gentleman'

He left the regulator in August 2019 to join midstream operator Ancala.

The company's chief executive, Jim Halliday, described Mr Marston as “a true gentleman, a committed family man and a highly respected oil and gas man”.

Halliday said: “I knew Eric for more than 20 years, through his time at BP, the OGA and finally at Ancala Midstream.

“Throughout, Eric put family first, sought to encourage new talent and the safe and responsible development of the UK’s energy supply. His enthusiasm and commitment will be sorely missed by us all.

“We have received many expressions of sadness and disbelief at Eric’s untimely passing, all have asked that their deepest condolences and heart-felt sympathies are extended to Eric’s family. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.”

Halliday's announcement of Mr Marston’s death on LinkedIn attracted hundreds of reactions and comments, with many current and former colleagues describing their shock and sadness as well as paying tribute to his "warmth" and "professionalism".

'A lovely man'

Stuart Payne, OGA director of supply chain, decommissioning and HR, said: “We are deeply upset by the death of our friend and former colleague … and have offered our condolences and support to his wife and family at what is a very difficult time for them.

“Eric joined the OGA in 2015 – a time when our organisation, then-newly formed, was still finding its feet.

“As part of the first group of leaders in the operations team, Eric made a huge difference by helping to swiftly and expertly reshape how we work with industry.

“We remember Eric as a lovely man who was friendly, smart and enthusiastic about his work and those he worked with.

“The influence he had on individuals, the culture of the OGA and the wider industry will endure and we will miss him enormously.”

Mr Marston also held qualifications from Warwick University and the University of Sheffield.

A private funeral will take place at 1.30pm on Monday 27 September. Afterwards, friends and colleagues are invited to The Fourmile, Kingswells, in Aberdeen.

The family has asked for donations to be made to the The Archie Foundation, an Abderdeen-based charity that helps bereaved children and has been providing them with support.

Earlier this week, the death of Ithaca Energy chief executive Bill Dunnett was announced at the age of 59. It is understood he had been battling an illness.