Santos’s executive vice president, David Knox, has been appointed as acting CEO until the completion of an international search for a successor to Mr Ellice-Flint.

Since his appointment in 2000, Mr Ellice-Flint has led Santos through a period of significant growth and development. His achievements include taking the company from a domestic onshore oil and gas producer to become a regional oil and gas field operator as well as a producer of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and coal seam gas.

According to Santos, Mr Ellice-Flint has also been responsible for key projects such as the development of the Mutineer and Exeter offshore oil fields, the Bayu Undan LNG field, the Gladstone LNG project and the Moomba carbon storage project.

He is also reportedly instrumental in the South Australian government’s decision to repeal the 15% shareholding cap.

Stepehen Gerlach, chairman, said: The board has total confidence that David has the necessary skills and experience to lead the company while we undertake a comprehensive selection process for John’s successor. We expect that Mr Knox will be a strong candidate for that role.