Encana Names Former BP Executive as CEO

11.06.2013 -

Encana named former BP executive Doug Suttles as its new president and chief executive on Tuesday as Canada's largest natural-gas producer searches for a new course following years of strategic missteps.

Suttles, a nearly three-decade veteran of the oil and gas sector, is taking the reins from interim CEO Clayton Woitas, a board member who replaced former CEO Randy Eresman temporarily when Eresman left the company unexpectedly in early January. Suttles was also named an Encana director.

Encana shares have dropped 41% over the past two years as the company weathered low gas prices and a balance sheet weakened by a focus on growth despite falling revenue. Investors will look to Suttles to reverse the company's course, but analysts don't expect quick moves.

"We would expect Mr. Suttles will spend time evaluating the organization before making any big strategic moves or personnel changes," Andrew Potter, an analyst at CIBC World Markets, wrote in a research note.

Eresman led Calgary, Alberta-based Encana for seven years. He faced criticism from investors over strategic changes that included spinning off the company's oil operations as oil prices strengthened and accelerating natural gas production even as new shale-gas supplies flooded the market and pushed prices down.

Encana also faces a U.S. Department of Justice probe into whether the company illegally colluded with Chesapeake Energy to lower the price of exploration lands.

The company said Suttles, a mechanical engineer by training, most recently served as chief operating officer of BP Exploration and Production.