Buccaneer Energy, an Australia-based independent company exploring for oil and gas in Cook Inlet, has suspended its CEO Curtis Burton, shown here in this undated photo. Burton has filed a lawsuit in the District Court of Harris County, Texas, claiming improper termination of his employment contract, Buccaneer announced in a March 6 press release.-Photo by Michael Dinneen, Morris News Service - Alaska

Buccaneer Energy, an Australia-based independent company exploring for oil and gas in Cook Inlet, has suspended its CEO Curtis Burton, shown here in this undated photo. Burton has filed a lawsuit in the District Court of Harris County, Texas, claiming improper termination of his employment contract, Buccaneer announced in a March 6 press release.-Photo by Michael Dinneen, Morris News Service - Alaska

Buccaneer Energy suspends CEO

Buccaneer Energy, an Australia-based independent company exploring for oil and gas in Cook Inlet, has suspended its CEO Curtis Burton and asked that trading of its shares on the Australian stock exchange be suspended while a restructuring of the company’s finances is accomplished.

The events appear connected with a series of problems Buccaneer has encountered with its Cook Inlet program that were complicated when a major investor failed to provide money that had been promised last year.

Buccaneer also announced March 14 that the company’s board will not be able to sign a half-year financial statement for the period ending Dec. 31 due to the restructuring now underway.

Sources familiar with Buccaneer said the actions are not expected to have an immediate impact on Alaska operations — Buccaneer is now a natural gas producer at its small Kenai Loop field on the Kenai Peninsula — but since Burton is a key architect of the company’s strategic plan to focus on Cook Inlet, his suspension may signal a move by the company’s board to refocus assets elsewhere, such as the U.S. Gulf of Mexico where Buccaneer also is active.

“Curtis Burton has been suspended with pay allowing for a (financial) review to be conducted. Mr. Burton has filed a lawsuit in the District Court of Harris County, Texas, claiming improper termination of his employment contract,” Buccaneer announced in a March 6 press release.

The company has appointed John Young Jr. as its Chief Restructuring Officer effective immediately, according to the press release. Buccaneer asked for suspension of trading of its shares Feb. 19.

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