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Contact hires Refining NZ CEO to replace Barnes

By Gavin Evans

Sept. 17 (BusinessDesk) - Contact Energy has appointed Refining NZ chief executive Mike Fuge to replace Dennis Barnes.

The board is yet to finalise a date for Fuge to take up his new role, but it is expected to be no later than March 16, chair Rob McDonald said.

Fuge, who previously ran Melbourne-based Pacific Hydro, only took up his role at the Marsden Point oil refinery in August 2018. Prior to his 2014 move to Australia, he was chief operating officer at Genesis Energy and a senior executive with Telecom before that. Much of his earlier career was with Shell.

McDonald noted that, in his short time at Refining NZ, Fuge has led a turnaround in safety performance and a fundamental revision of the firm’s corporate strategy to reflect the country’s carbon-neutral ambitions.

Among recent initiatives, there is a planned 26 MW solar array to help reduce the site’s power costs and its emissions. The refinery has also promoted itself as a potential hub for hydrogen development in Northland and is also participating – with other members of the Major Electricity Users’ Group – in a trial to see if they can bring forward a renewable generation development by jointly tendering part of their electricity load.

Refining NZ chair Simon Allen said the firm is disappointed by Fuge’s decision and has started a search for a replacement.

As well as focusing on the continued safe and reliable operation of the refinery, Fuge will continue to manage the company’s response to both the government inquiry into Auckland fuel security and the Commerce Commission’s study into competition in the fuel market, Allen said.

That includes the company’s work streams around fuels for the future, Allen said.

Barnes signalled his intention to leave Contact in June with an expected departure in early 2020. He joined the company from former parent company Origin Energy in April 2011.

McDonald thanked Barnes for his leadership and his commitment to an orderly CEO transition.



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