BP chief on his way out

British Petroleum’s chief
executive Tony Hayward has been negotiating the terms of his exit, with a
formal announcement likely by Monday, the BBC has learned.

Mr. Hayward has been widely
criticised over the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

BBC business editor Robert
Peston said it was likely he would be replaced by his US colleague Bob Dudley,
now in charge of the clean-up operation.

BP said Mr. Hayward “remains
our chief executive and has the full support of the board and senior

The BBC correspondent added
that while BP had been preparing for a change at the top for some time, the
company was waiting until progress had been made on stemming the leak and until
it was possible to quantify the financial costs of the disaster.

BP is due to release its
results for the second quarter on Tuesday.

It is expected to reveal a
provision of up to $30bn for the costs of capping the well, compensation claims
and fines to be paid, resulting in a massive quarterly loss.

BP’s board was scheduled to
meet on Monday ahead of the results.

Mr. Hayward has been with
the company for 28 years.

Mr. Hayward has also been
rapped by US congressmen for not taking responsibility for the disaster at its
Macondo oil well, which killed 11 people.

The congressmen were
unimpressed by the answers they received from the BP boss at a congressional
committee on energy and commerce hearing last month.

They accused him of
“stonewalling” questions and of “kicking the can [of responsibility] down the

Mr. Hayward had already been
lambasted for saying that he “just wanted his life back” and that the Gulf is a
“big ocean” following the leak.

He was also taken to task
for attending a sailing event in June by those, including the White House, who
felt he should have been dealing with the leak.

The man expected to replace
him, Bob Dudley, took over the day-to-day operations in the Gulf of Mexico last

say that, from a public relations point of view, Mr. Dudley has the advantage
of being American and speaking with an American accent.

grew up in Mississippi and, according to BP, has a “deep appreciation and
affinity for the Gulf Coast”.

Dudley joined BP in 1999 following a merger with US oil firm Amoco.

is probably best-known for running BP’s joint venture in Russia, TNK-BP, during
the public falling-out with its Russian partners.

joined the BP board in April 2009.

Pike, chief executive of the Royal Society of Chemistry, said that perception
was the key reason behind the change.

your major shareholders are getting the impression that there is a major
problem here, then that is key over and above anything the chief executive or
his board of directors has done,” he told the BBC.

many ways changing the chief executive is as much practical as it is symbolic;
it all rests on reputation.

hopes the next few days will be the start of a new beginning for the company,”
he added.


BP chief executive Tony Hayward