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Geoff Donaldson with a model of the North Rankin A platform in August 2000.
Geoff Donaldson with a model of the North Rankin A platform in August 2000.

Woodside is mourning the loss of former chairman and founding father of the company Geoff Donaldson, who died last week aged 99.

Mr Donaldson helped found Woodside in 1954 by underwriting the company's first share issue.Two years later, he became chairman and stayed in the role for 28 years until his retirement in 1984.

Woodside chief executive Peter Coleman said Mr Donaldson would be remembered as an Australian business legend and a driving force behind the establishment of the Australian oil and gas industry.

"Geoff's legacy is enormous and he will always be remembered as the man that built this great Australian company," Mr Coleman said.

"Geoff was a true pioneer of the industry in Australia and without his personal drive and perseverance Woodside would not have become the company it is today."

Mr Coleman said when he last visited Mr Donaldson at his home last year it was clear the World War 2 veteran had lost none of his pride in the company.

"Even at the age of 99, Geoff continued to follow Woodside closely. He would be full of questions about our activities and full of advice," he said.

"He remained immensely proud that Woodside had remained an independent Australian company and had retained operatorship of the North West Shelf Project."

Woodside chairman Michael Chaney said Geoff Donaldson was truly the father of the company.

"He enabled the company maintain its position in a capital intensive industry in spite of its initial small size and the vagaries of the stock market," he said.

In Woodside's early years, Mr Donaldson was regularly called on to keep the company afloat.

In 1959, at a time investors had turned away from oil stocks, he personally lent the company 5000 pounds to help meet its debts.

In the 1960s Mr Donaldson turned the fledgling company's focus from Victoria to WA, where he secured offshore permits covering 367,000sqkm.

Gas discoveries in the permits would eventually underpin the development of the North West Shelf Project, Australia's largest resource project.

Mr Donaldson retired in 1984 when the North West Shelf began supplying pipeline gas to WA consumers.

It began producing liquefied natural gas for export in 1989.

In 2009, an LNG carrier built for Pluto LNG was named the Woodside Donaldson in his honour.