Uzbekistan's President Shavkat Mirziyoyev has replaced the head of state-owned oil and gas producer Uzbekneftegaz for the third time in 15 months.

Mehriddin Abdullayev is the new chairman, replacing Bahadir Sidikov, the company said.

Previously Abdullayev was first deputy of the national Chamber of Account.

Sidikov, who chaired the company from February last year, has stepped down to take a new position elsewhere, Uzbekneftegaz said, without revealing any further details.

In July, before he departed, Sidikov reported a significant loss of between 7 trillion Uzbek som ($736.45 million) to 8 trillion som.

The company has also $2 billion of debt to an Uzbek fund for reconstruction and development.

In an effort to improve its finances, the company applied for a change in its interest terms.

Uzbekneftegaz is undergoing a restructuring process, which started with two decrees from President Mirziyoyev in July and November last year, with the aim of improving efficiency in the oil and gas sector.

As a result, Uzbekneftegas has lost control over gas transportation and marketing subsidiaries and split off its major construction and drilling units.

It has also been ordered to pass the rights to negotiate with potential investors on new licenses for development of oil and gas blocks in Uzbekistan to the state agency Goskomgeologia.

Starting from this year, licences for blocks will be awarded only via tenders and to the highest bidder, according to the presidential order.