Business Person of the Month

February 2010: Aidan Heavey, CEO, Tullow Oil

By Business & Finance
02 March 2010
Aidan Heavey

Since founding Tullow Oil, the ex-accountant has steered the firm to unprecedented heights with another recent oil discovery in Uganda.


With another major oil discovery made in Uganda in January, Tullow Oil has continued its incredible progress as one of Ireland’s major success stories. Central to this progress has been CEO Aidan Heavey, who has steered the company he founded to unprecedented heights. The announcement  means the company can fast-track the development of a potentially lucrative oil field and continue its upward trajectory.


The discovery in Uganda represents a massive opportunity for the company which already has a major presence in the oil-rich territory of West Africa. Tullow Oil has been one of the fastest growing firms in the last five years. It has been in the FTSE 100’s top risers for five consecutive years and now operates in 23 countries and has over 540 employees. It is listed on both the Irish and London stock exchanges. Based in London, the firm has grown exponentially since Heavey founded it in 1985.

Decade of success

The company grew throughout the 1990s as it constantly expanded its portfolio with oil discoveries in Pakistan and further afield. In 1996, it acquired licenses to drill in Bangladesh and the Ivory Coast, where its first production was achieved in 2000. This ushered in a decade of success for Tullow Oil, still under Heavey’s astute leadership.

In 2000, Tullow paid an estimated £200m (€315m) to BP for its mature North Sea oil fields. Through careful development, Tullow has considerably extended the lifespan and profitability of these fields, generating cash flow for further acquisitions. In 2004, Tullow completed the acquisition of Energy Africa for $570m (around €475m).

Exceptional growth

2007 was an exceptional year for the group. It recorded its largest ever discovery – the Jubilee field offshore Ghana. It continued its successful exploration in Uganda and generated record production, sales revenue, operating cash flow and growth in reserves and resources.

Tullow’s African assets transformed the group’s business, driven by impressive exploration success in Ghana and Uganda and strong production growth, up 21% to 40,300 boepd. This was a key factor in the significant increase in the share price which promoted the company to FTSE 100 membership. South Asia reported a 154% increase in average production from gas-field developments in Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Closer to home, the UK delivered a strong operational performance, with broadly stable production, two new field developments and a successful gas discovery.


Aidan Heavey founded Tullow Oil in 1985, starting the company in Ireland and successfully engineering its first gas production and sales in Senegal two years later. Now based in London, Tullow is one of the largest independent exploration and production companies in Europe. Aged 56, Heavey was a founding director and shareholder of the company. A chartered accountant, he previously held roles in the airline and engineering sectors in Ireland. Aidan is a director of Traidlinks, an Irish-based charity established to develop and promote enterprise and diminish poverty in the developing world, particularly Africa.

Tullow’s European interests are primarily focused on gas in the UK southern North Sea where it has significant interests in the Caister-Murdoch System and the Thames area. The company also has interests offshore the Netherlands and Portugal.

Impressive achievements

  • Aidan Heavey founded Tullow Oil in 1985.
  • It is one of the largest independent oil exploration and production firms in Europe.
  • It is listed on the Irish and London stock exchanges.

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Business & Finance, in association with MERC Partners, has been awarding excellence in business through the ‘Business Person of the Month’ award over the last number of years. These awards seek to recognise noteworthy achievements in business leadership, and particularly those that make a telling contribution to the wider business community in Ireland.