Fair or not, anything and everything that happens at EQT right now, which is under extreme pressure by the Rice brothers and several other large shareholders (see Rice Brothers Attempt to Take Over EQT, Install Toby as CEO), is under a magnifying glass. So when the company’s top driller, the person in charge of production, ups and hands in her two week notice (leaving this Friday) after getting the job just six months ago, well, that’s big news.
Last year when Rob McNally was announced as the next CEO of EQT, he promptly fired three senior executives, including the senior vice president of production, the most important position in any drilling company next to the CEO, in our humble opinion (see EQT 3Q18: Major Shakeup in Top Ranks, Stock Price Plunges). VP of production is a big deal. That’s the person in charge of finding and extracting natural gas, NGLs and oil.
Erin Centofanti, who had been with EQT for 15 years, was named as the new executive VP of production last October. Yes, Erin is a woman. At the time we said, “Kudos to her for ascending to a position most often held by a man.” No, we were not being sexist. We’re congratulating Erin for her truly noteworthy achievement in a male-dominated industry.
However, Erin handed in her notice last week and will be gone in a few days. Not much is known about the why. Pittsburgh Business Times ace reporter Paul Gough has the exclusive scoop:
The executive in charge of EQT’s natural gas production will be leaving her post early next month after a little over six months in the job.
Erin Centofanti, who became executive vice president of production Oct. 25, 2018, gave her two-week notice Thursday. EQT (NYSE: EQT) confirmed her plans to depart.
“Erin has decided to move on to the next phase in her career, and her last day with us will be May 3,” an EQT spokeswoman told the Business Times. Her next move was not disclosed.
Centofanti, 42, is a 15-year veteran of EQT, having joined in 2004 as a reservoir engineer. She was SVP of asset development at EQT Production, and was promoted in a corporate shakeup that led to the departure of EQT’s previous EVP of production, David Schlosser.
It wasn’t immediately clear whether or when a new EVP of production would be named. EQT this week officially welcomed a new COO, Gary Gould, who is in charge of operations for what is the largest independent natural gas producer in the country.
Centofanti was part of the executive team under CEO Rob McNally that on Thursday posted new signs of the turnaround at EQT Corp., which included an addition of free cash flow as well as operating efficiencies and the reduction in the number of rigs from the start of the year, going from 10 rigs in January to seven in April.
Centofanti, who has a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Penn State, had been a production and reservoir engineer for Chevron Corp. before joining EQT.*
McNally is in the fight of his life to hold on to his position of CEO. He faces a proxy fight by Toby and Derek Rice, who want McNally and all of senior management out (see Rice Boys Issue Proxy Card, Ask EQT Shareholders for New Board). Having your head driller walk out in the midst of a proxy fight is not a good thing. We’re assuming this news will give the Rice boys more ammunition in their fight to gain control of the company.
*Pittsburgh (PA) Business Times (Apr 25, 2019) – EXCLUSIVE: EQT production chief plans to leave driller
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