05/06/2013 11:26 EDT | Updated 07/06/2013 05:12 EDT

Penn West stock soars after oilpatch veterans appointed as chair, vice-chair

CALGARY - Penn West Exploration Ltd. (TSX:PWT) shares surged as high as seven per cent on Monday after the oil and gas company named two prominent oilpatch veterans as chairman and vice-chairman.

The stock soared as high as $10.20 — an increase of 7.2 per cent from Friday — but closed up 48 cents or five per cent at $9.99 on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

On Sunday, Penn West said former Suncor Energy Inc. (TSX:SU) CEO Rick George was appointed board chairman. George led the oilsands giant for more than two decades before retiring a year ago. Suncor became Canada's biggest energy company when it merged with Petro-Canada in 2009.

Allan Markin will fill the role of vice-chairman at Penn West. Markin was chairman of Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. (TSX:CNQ) — another Canadian energy heavyweight — for 23 years. Former Penn West CEO Bill Andrew will share the vice-chairman duties with Markin.

Last week, Penn West said its board of directors was in the midst of a "renewal process."

"These board appointments are an important step for the future of Penn West," the company said in a statement.

"Mr. George and Mr. Markin are two of the energy industry's most accomplished company builders and bring a wealth of experience, leadership and wisdom to the Penn West board."

Penn West has seen a great deal of upheaval in its leadership ranks over the past several months.

In November, it announced the departures of four executives: Hilary Foulkes, executive vice-president and chief operating officer; Thane Jensen, senior vice-president and operations engineering; James Burns, vice-president of corporate planning; and Wendy Henkelman, vice-president, treasury.

The company did not offer an explanation beyond that "improved execution is the key to realizing the value inherent in the company's asset base."

"We will continuously make the necessary changes to deliver on our business plan," it said at the time.