Just days after flicking the switch on the $14.9 billion Pluto LNG project, the Woodside Petroleum veteran who has overseen the development almost from discovery is calling it a day.
Lucio Della Martina has told Woodside chief executive Peter Coleman that he intends to retire after 21 years with the company.
Noting the 57-year-old's outstanding contribution, Coleman told staff in an internal email that Della Martina would remain in charge of Pluto LNG and Woodside's Australian assets as executive vice-president, Australian business, until his departure on a date to be advised.
Woodside last week announced the start-up of Pluto, albeit over budget and over time to be fair, not unlike most other recent new WA resources projects.
Della Martina has overseen the project since 2005, just after the Pluto field was discovered. A chemical engineer, he began
his career with Shell and BP in South Africa, joining Woodside
in 1991. Outside Pluto, he has held various commercial and technical roles with the company.
A candidate for the top job vacated by Don Voelte in mid-2011, Della Martina is the latest of a number of Voelte's leadership team to have either retired or moved on since Coleman's arrival.
The departures include Kevin Gallagher (head of the North
West Shelf, who is now chief executive of Clough), Eve Howell (the retired boss of health, safety and security) and Jeff Soine
(the head of international oil and gas, who left suddenly in September).
Rio Tinto's decision to put the Argyle mine and the rest of its diamond business on the market won't be helping nerves at BHP Billiton's WA nickel operations.
With BHP's diamond arm already on the auction block, Rio's move provides a rare opportunity for a potential buyer to buy a major presence in the market.
But it also speaks to how the mining duo are seeking to exit businesses that no longer offer profitable, global scale. The Goldfields-based BHP Nickel West, which makes up the bulk of BHP's stainless-steel division, is in a difficult space. With the division hardly making a dollar, management is seeking to cut costs, last month culling 155 jobs.
It may be the world's fifth- biggest nickel producer, but BHP accounts for barely a third of the output of the world No. 1, Russia's Norilsk. And with nickel prices still heading south, down 13 per cent since the Nickel West job cuts, its nickel business is struggling just to stand still. That suggests that a decision on the future of the nickel unit, possibly a sale or even a joint venture with Norilsk, is drawing closer.
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