North Sea oil and gas operator Ithaca Energy has paid tribute to its "much-loved and respected" chief executive Bill Dunnett after his death, aged 59.

Dunnett took over the running of Delek Group-owned Ithaca in August 2020 after five years at the helm of Repsol Sinopec Resources UK.

Ithaca said Dunnett passed away peacefully at home on 14 September with his family. It is understood he had been battling an illness.

Gilad Myerson, executive chairman, who has been acting as interim chief executive since April, said: “Everyone at Ithaca is deeply saddened by Bill’s death, as he was not only Ithaca’s much-loved CEO but also a very well-known and respected member of Aberdeen’s oil and gas community.

“Our deepest sympathies and thoughts are with Bill’s family at this sad time.”

Myerson will continue in the interim chief executive role for the immediate future, the company said.

Dunnett previously worked for Petrofac, Halliburton, Mobil North Sea and Shell.

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'Lived life to the full'

Oil & Gas Authority (OGA) chief executive Andy Samuel said: “We at the OGA are shocked and deeply saddened to hear about Bill’s death and we offer our heartfelt condolences to his family, friends and colleagues at this painful time.

“Bill earned a reputation for being a highly effective industry leader who drove significant improvements at the companies he managed. His outstanding work to transform Repsol Sinopec is rightly admired and he continued in a similar vein at Ithaca Energy."

Samuel said Dunnett also contributed strongly across the wider UK oil and gas sector, including through his chairing of the MER UK Technology Leadership Board, adding he was also a "huge supporter and generous contributor" to a number of charities.

“Above all else we remember Bill for his great energy and fun. He lived life to the full and brought a positive spark to all his interactions. He is very badly missed,” Samuel said.

Deirdre Michie, chief executive of trade association Oil & Gas UK (OGUK) said: "Bill was a great champion and leader of our industry, including serving as a Board member for OGUK.

"We are all so sorry to hear about his sad and untimely passing and our thoughts are with his family, friends and colleagues at this most difficult of times.”

Jose Luis Munoz, chief executive of Repsol Sinopec, said: “Bill served as Repsol Sinopec CEO for five years and was a valued and respected colleague.

"He was instrumental in the successful transformation of the company, leading through a difficult period and steering the company to a significantly improved position.

"The thoughts and condolences of our shareholders and everyone at Repsol Sinopec are with Bill’s family, friends and loved ones at this sad time.”

Israel's Delek Group in 2017 bought Ithaca in a deal valuing the oil and gas producer at about $650 million. It completed the $2 billion acquisition of Chevron’s remaining UK North Sea assets in November 2019.