05 Feb 2020

John Zehnder – a leader in the Australian oil and gas industry during the difficult days of the 1970s – passed away on Saturday, 1 February. John, pictured above left with former Santos chairman John Bonython, was chief executive of Santos from 1972 until 1981. John was born in Western Australia and came to Sydney with his parents in the early 1940s. A graduate of geology at the University of Sydney, in the 1950s he joined Oil Search and was engaged in early exploration work in the New Guinea Highlands. John spent his early career working with BP in Alaska, Libya and North America, before becoming vice president for the South East Asian operations of the Union Oil Company of California. After leaving Santos, John worked with Oakwood International Petroleum, and later served on the boards of Sagasco, Ampol, Poseidon and Oil Search. John was a council member of the former APEA and won APPEA’s Lewis G Weeks Award for his outstanding contribution to petroleum exploration in 1992. Kristin Wiedenbach’s history of Santos Blue Flames, Black Gold reports he “had earned a reputation as caring, honest straight-talker and the trust of those around him.” APPEA and the industry’s thoughts are with John’s family and friends at this sad time.