Sylvia Pfeifer Andy Inglis marks his return with Petrofac

It’s been a fortnight of corporate comebacks for former BP executives. First out of the blocks was Tony Hayward, the former chief executive of the UK oil group, with the launch last week of his energy fund, Vallares. And this week, Andy Inglis, his former colleague who used to run BP’s exploration and production arm, made his first public appearance in front of City investors in his new job at Petrofac, the oil and gas service provider. Both men left BP last year in the wake of the Gulf of Mexico spill.

As head of BP’s upstream business based in Houston, Texas, Mr Inglis was in charge of its exploration activities at the time of the gulf accident. He resigned from the board of BP after Bob Dudley, who took over as chief executive officer from Tony Hayward after the accident, initiated a wholesale restructuring of the upstream division.

Mr Inglis heads Petrofac’s new Integrated Energy Services division which brings together the company’s solutions, energy developments and training services businesses. The division is focused on so-called ‘resource holders’ or national oil companies that own small and medium-sized undeveloped fields. Unlike other service companies, IES will not only provide straight-forward services such as engineering and construction but, where appropriate, it will also provide capital.

It’s an innovative concept that has paid off for Petrofac in the past (it co-invested in the Don fields in the North Sea which it subsequently spun out to form Enquest) and, if it continues, should help accelerate the overall growth at the company in the coming years. With national oil companies becoming more reluctant to give up a share of their resources to the international oil companies, Petrofac’s pitch is timely. The company on Tuesday reiterated its ambition to double recurring earnings between 2010 and 2015; IES is likely to account for around one third of group net income in 2015, with one third of this expected from new IES projects.

Analysts at Evolution Securities believe in the proposition, saying in a note published this morning:

“The evolution of IES strategy has resulted in a much more focussed business offering and an interesting proposition for National Oil Companies in areas like Southeast Asia, Nigeria, Mexico, Romania etc. where there are over 2,400 undeveloped opportunities. Petrofac’s focus on key geographies with high growth potential remains a compelling story and IES should accelerate the overall growth opportunity from 2013.”

For Mr Inglis, running IES may not be of the scale of running BP’s upstream division but there is ample opportunity for growth in the business model. When Mr Inglis’ appointment was first announced in January, there was some speculation he could be a possible successor as Petrofac chief executive to Ayman Asfari. Asked about this at the time by the Financial Times, Mr Asfari said he intended to stay around “for a while”. Nevertheless, given Mr Inglis’ experience at BP, the possibility remains that he might make a worthy successor and could at some point get the opportunity to run his own FTSE100 company.