National Fuel Gas Co. has named Ronald J. Tanski as its new chief executive officer, the latest step in Tanski’s climb through the ranks of the company.

Tanski joined National Fuel in 1979 and has served in a variety of roles, including president and chief operating officer since 2010. He will continue to serve as president of the Amherst-based energy company and public utility.

David F. Smith moves from the role of CEO to executive chairman of the board.

“The election of Ron as chief executive officer represents continued and deliberate succession planning,” Smith said in a statement. “Over the years, Ron has held a leadership position in every one of our business segments.”

Smith served as CEO of National Fuel since 2008, and he added the title of chairman of the board in 2010.

Tanski was traveling back from National Fuel’s annual meeting in Florida on Thursday and was not available to comment, a spokeswoman said.

In a statement, Tanski said he and Smith “have had the opportunity to work with a fantastic leadership team at National Fuel for our entire careers, and I feel honored to be entrusted as the company’s current leader.” Smith has been with National Fuel since 1978.

Tanski said he feels “every one of our operating segments is performing up to its potential today.”

Tanski served as treasurer and principal financial officer from 2004 to 2010. His other previous roles include serving as president of National Fuel Gas Supply Co., and as president of National Fuel Gas Distribution Co.

In February, National Fuel reported surging earnings from its expanding pipeline system for transporting natural gas from the Marcellus Shale helped boost its first-quarter profits by 12 percent.

The earnings topped analyst expectations, and National Fuel said it expects its profits for the current fiscal year to be nearly 4 percent stronger than it previously forecast – and about 30 percent higher than last year – partly because of a 6 percent increase in its oil and natural gas production guidance.

Exploration and production has become a significant component of National Fuel’s business. Back in January, National Fuel reported that five of the new wells it had drilled in the Marcellus Shale region were producing natural gas at the highest rate of any of the wells the company had drilled in Pennsylvania.