Tullow Oil has today appointed Rahul Dhir, who currently leads smaller Africa-focused oil and gas producer Delonex, as its chief executive. 

Rahul Dhir will take the helm at Tullow at a time when it is slashing its headcount by a third and trying to raise $1 billion from selling at least part of its East African assets amid a pandemic that has slashed oil demand and prices. 

Tullow shares on the London Stock Exchange's main market have plunged about 93% since April 2019, shrinking its market capitalisation to around £250m while its debt stands at $2.8 billion. 

Dhir, a petroleum engineer who has also worked at Cairn India and banks Morgan Stanley and Merrill Lynch, will take over on July 1, Tullow said. 

Tullow has been under the interim leadership of executive chairman Dorothy Thompson since previous CEO Paul McDade resigned in December after the group failed to hit production targets at flagship fields in Ghana. 

The company has also suffered from delays in getting its Kenyan and Ugandan projects onstream and lower-than-hoped-for oil quality in Guyana. 

"The company has high-quality assets and great people. It also has a unique position in Africa. I am looking forward to working with the team and the board to re-build an exceptional business," rahul Dhir said in a statement.

Delonex is active in Ethiopia, Kenya and Chad, according to its website.