StatoilHydro board member Kurt Anker Nielsen has resigned with immediate effect amid controversy around the process preceding a possible change of the company’s name.

Yesterday the Norwegian oil and gas giant announced it planned to revert to the Statoil name, with the change to be put to the annual general meeting on 19 May.

The company put out a statement to say that Nielsen had resigned as a “result of the way the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy has handled the issue relating to the company name.”

It is believed The Norwegian Ministry of Petroleum & Energy – which manages the state’s 70% stake in the company – will only vote for proposals that include the name Statoil, either alone or as the dominant part of a new name.

If accepted, the new name will come into force from 1 November.

Kurt Anker Nielsen was a board member of Norsk Hydro from 2004 to 2007. He has been a member of the StatoilHydro board and chair of the board’s audit committee since 1 October 2007.