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The US company bidding for control of local oil and gas producer Santos has appointed a former BHP Billiton petroleum executive as chief financial officer.

Harbour Energy, which this month raised its bid for Santos for a third time to about $13.5 billion, has appointed David Powell – who was CFO of BHP Billiton’s petroleum unit for more than seven years until 2016.

‘(With) the recent announcement regarding progress with the potential acquisition of Santos Ltd, these are exciting times for Harbour Energy,’ Harbour chief executive Linda Cook said.