BP CEO Hayward Yanked From Gulf

Posted by Shirley Brady on June 18, 2010 03:15 PM

A day after BP CEO Tony Hayward's lackluster appearance before the U.S. congressional inquiry on the company's oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, BP chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg told Sky News today that the mild-mannered CEO is no longer overseeing the company's Gulf spill operations. Svanberg said he is now "handing over the operation to Bob Dudley," an American who became the oil firm's managing director last year. "It is clear Tony has made remarks that have upset people."

Hayward had been dispatched to America after the spill (and famously told reporters he wanted his life back), but with the flow still ongoing and fallout for the brand as costs mount, he will no longer be the voice or face of the company's oil spill response. Svanberg said he also intends to expand his own involvement: "This has now turned into a reputation matter, a financial squeeze for BP and a political matter, and that is why you will now see more of me."

Svanberg was criticized in a Times of London article published June 9th, which stated that BP shareholders were more supportive of Hayward and distressed by the chairman's lack of profile in handling the Gulf diaster, and was also drubbed for saying BP cared about "the small people" affected by the spill, which he later attributed to his native Swedish.

BP's shares rose on the news of Hayward's changed role. For more on Svanberg's Sky News interview, click here. [6/19 update: BP spokeswoman Sheila Williams told the New York Times that Hayward is still in charge of the Gulf cleanup operations, as he came under new fire for participating in a yacht race on Saturday.]

Separately, the company said it is seeing progress with Kevin Costner's OceanTherapy Solutions technology to remove oil from the Gulf, and reported its best day so far for collecting spilled oil.

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