Mr Gallagher is widely recognised at Clough for driving strong performances in the face of tough industry conditions.
Before that, he was a Senior Executive on the North West Shelf venture at Woodside.
Santos Executive Chairman Peter Coates congratulated Mr Gallagher on his appointment.
“Kevin has nearly 25 years’ experience in managing oil and gas operations in Australia, the USA and North and West Africa,” Mr Coates said.
“He is ideally suited to lead Santos as we move from a focus on major strategic developments to delivering strong operational results in a continuing low oil price environment,” he added.
Mr Gallagher said he believed the Santos portfolio would offer some “truly exciting, world class opportunities”.
“I am very proud to have led Clough for the past four years, during which I have gained an in-depth insight and understanding of the oil and gas contracting sector to complement over 20 years of oil and gas operating experience.”
Mr Coates said that with the major LNG project investment phase ending and the oil price outlook remaining low, Santos had to take action to become a more agile, low cost producer.
“The company has made good progress towards that goal through the year with an AU$900 million reduction in capex and circa AU$370 million per annum in cost savings through headcount reductions of some 770 positions, through with meaningful supply chain savings.
“However, the strategic review which we have just completed, has shown that we can further simplify the business and enhance financial discipline.”
Mr Coates’ comments come on the back of Santos dropping 200 jobs from its Adelaide office – on top of the removal of a previous 565 positions across the company – and the recent rejection of a takeover bid from Middle East-based firm, Scepter Partners.
Mr Gallagher will aim to start with Santos in early 2016, subject to an agreement on a release date with Clough. Mr Coates will continue in his Executive Chair role, taking full responsibility for the company’s operations until Mr Gallagher commences his duties.
Santos Managing Director and Chief Executive David Knox, who signalled that he would step down in August, will work with Mr Coates to facilitate a smooth transition to Mr Gallagher.
This article originally appeared in PPO News, sign up for a free trial today.