Former TransCanada Corp. CEO Hal Kvisle was tapped Monday to take over at Talisman Energy Inc. after CEO John A. Manzoni agreed to step down, effective immediately, the Calgary-based independent said.

Manzoni, a former BP plc executive, had led the company for the past five years (see Daily GPI, May 31, 2007).

Talisman in recent years had become more focused on North American unconventional natural gas, including the Marcellus and Utica shales (see Daily GPI, May 21, 2008). Two years ago Talisman formed a joint venture with Statoil SA to acquire Eagle Ford Shale properties (see Daily GPI, Oct. 12, 2010).

The move toward more unconventional development has come in fits and starts, however. In early 2011 Talisman cut its capital spending in North American dry gas plays by 35% to direct more money to oil and liquids development (see Daily GPI, Jan. 12, 2011).

"John has made a significant contribution to Talisman since he joined the company in 2007," said Talisman Chairman Chuck Williamson of Manzoni. "Since that time, Talisman successfully entered the unconventional business, establishing a substantial presence in some of the best shale plays in North America. In addition, his focus on investing in and developing core capabilities will serve Talisman well in the future."

Kvisle was president and CEO of TransCanada until he retired in 2010, and he is a long-time director at Talisman.

"Hal has distinguished himself as a visionary chief executive and thought leader in Canada throughout his career," said Williamson. "We are very fortunate to have him now lead Talisman. Combined with Talisman's strong management team, Hal will provide a strong focus on operational excellence and project delivery."

Manzoni's departure was unexpected, wrote energy analysts at Tudor, Pickering, Holt & Co. "Color us surprised," they wrote Monday. However, "frustration with leadership has been a key shareholder issue over the last year and recent rumors of shareholder activism [are] likely to remain front and center with this change."

For 2Q2012 Talisman reported that cash flow fell 10% year/year to US$803 million. Net income in the period totaled $196 million, versus $698 million in the year-ago quarter. Total production in 2Q2012 was 435,000 boe/d, an increase of 4% over 2Q2011, which Talisman attributed to higher oil and natural gas volumes in North American shale and in Southeast Asia. Eagle Ford Shale output averaged 13,800 boe/d, up from 2,700 boe/d a year earlier.

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