17 May 2022

Media release: Industry giants Richard Owen and Peter Botten recognised for careers dedicated to oil and gas

Two of the oil and gas industry’s most respected and experienced leaders have been celebrated with Honorary Life Memberships at the opening day of the 2022 APPEA Conference and Exhibition.

The Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association (APPEA) today recognised former ExxonMobil chair Richard Owen OAM and former Oil Search boss Peter Botten AC, CBE for their decades of commitment to the sector.

Peter Botten (M) and Richard Owen (R) chat with APPEA Director Western Australia Claire Wilkinson about their careers.

The APPEA constitution allows its Board to award Honorary Life Membership to a person for meritorious or worthy service to the industry, recognising excellence and commitment in striving to meet its objectives.

Mr Owen has worked in oil and gas his entire career including 37 years with Exxon Mobil around the world before being made its Australian chairman.

He also spent six years as an APPEA board director (2013 – 2019), including as Chairman of the Greenhouse and Energy Policy Committee, steering the sector through major national climate change reforms.

APPEA Acting Chief Executive Damian Dwyer said: “Throughout his career, from the very beginning, he has been in the oil and gas industry.

“During his time on the APPEA board, Richard’s focus on the key objectives of that Committee, its work for the good of the entire industry and his focus on a disciplined, considered and rigorous approach was key to the Committee’s work and to its achievements.”

Mr Owen said of the honour: “Honorary Life Membership of APPEA is great recognition and I would like to thank the Board for making the award.

RIchard Owen receives his APPEA Honorary Life Membership from Shell Australia Country Chair Tony Nunan

“I would also like to thank the APPEA staff, past and present, for their tireless work in supporting the sector for over six decades.

“I believe that APPEA has been, and continues to be, a critical and necessary voice for the sector to ensure informed decision making by communities and governments.”

Mr Botten was most recently managing director and chief executive of Oil Search from 1994 to 2020 before its merger with Santos. He is currently Chair of AGL Energy and resources company Aurelia Metals and a director of Karoon Energy, as well as Conrad Energy Asia.

Mr Dwyer said: “This is in recognition of his contribution to the oil and gas industry throughout his career – his long service to the industry, with particular emphasis for his work in PNG in relation to community and economic development.

“He follows the belief that, in his words: ‘Companies cannot operate in isolation from society if they are to generate goodwill, maintain a moral compass and create shared value between community and business’.

“He has consistently been a strong supporter and advocate for APPEA and its work.

“Whilst Mr Botten’s activity is split between Australia and PNG, it is for his significant contribution to the industry as a whole and the extensive work he has carried out and continues to carry out in communities, for which he is being honoured.”

Mr Botten said of the recognition: “I am truly honoured to receive this award and be recognised by the Members of APPEA.

Peter Botten receives his APPEA Honorary Life Membership from Shell Australia Country Chair Tony Nunan.

“Being part of a hugely dynamic oil, gas and energy industry for over 45 years has been an enormously exciting and fulfilling experience.

“I thank APPEA and its Members for the support and counsel that I have received over my career working in Australia and PNG.

“It has been a privilege to be able to contribute, in some small way, to the industry and drive the importance of community engagement, that has been pivotal to sustainable success of the companies in which I have been involved.”


Mr Richard Owen OAM

Richard Owen OAM graduated with a Bachelor of Chemical Engineering from the University of Sydney in 1983, joining Esso Australia at the Longford Plants in Victoria. Following a number of engineering, operational and management assignments in Sale, Sydney and Melbourne, Richard moved to New Orleans, USA and was appointed as Operations Manager in 2001.

Following a number of leadership roles in Houston, Alaska and Germany, Richard was appointed to the position of President and General Manager for ExxonMobil Indonesia in 2011. Richard returned to Melbourne in 2013 when he was named Chairman of ExxonMobil Australia. In 2019, Richard was appointed to the role of Upstream Business Development Executive for ExxonMobil. Richard retired from ExxonMobil in October 2020.

Richard is the former President of the Australian Resource and Energy Employer Association (AREEA). He is a past board member of the Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association (APPEA) and the American Chamber of Commerce in Australia. Richard is a Fellow of Engineers Australia and the Institution of Chemical Engineers, a Life Member of the Society of Petroleum Engineers, and a graduate member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. He currently serves on the board of Offshore & Specialist Ships Australia Ltd.


Mr Peter Botten AC, CBE

Peter Botten AC, CBE is an experienced former Chief Executive, with over 45 years of experience in the resources sector. He has significant international experience, having lived and worked in Europe, North America, Africa, the Middle East and South East Asia. His career has been dominated by his role as Managing Director of Oil Search Limited, a position he held for over 26 years, retiring in February 2020. He was one of the longest serving CEO’s on the Australian Securities Exchange and was included in the Harvard Business Review’s list of best performing CEO’s in the world for 2 consecutive years (2015 and 2016).

During his tenure at Oil Search he oversaw the Company’s growth from a staff of seven and a market capitalisation of around $250m to a regionally significant producer that, ahad of its merger with Santos, had over 3,000 employees, a market capitalisation that peaked at around $15bn and major interests in two world class LNG Projects, becoming an operator of oil and gas facilities and having major new developments in Papua New Guinea and Alaska.

He was recently honoured by the award of Companion of the Order of Australia (AC), along with Commander of the British Empire (CBE) for services to the oil and gas sector, community development and building relationships between Australia and Papua New Guinea.

Currently Chairman of AGL Energy, he also chairs resources company Aurelia Metals, is a Director of Karoon Energy and Conrad Energy Asia. He is also Chairman of the Oil Search Foundation and the Hela Provincial Health Authority in PNG.

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