Belfast Telegraph

BP boss steps aside in crisis

By Russell Lynch

Under-fire BP boss Tony Hayward has handed over day-to-day control of the Gulf of Mexico crisis as the oil giant set up a new division to manage the spill.

BP board director Bob Dudley, a US citizen who grew up in Mississippi, will lead the new Gulf Coast Restoration Organisation, the firm said,

The appointment leaves Mr Hayward, who has caused outrage in the US with a series of PR blunders following the catastrophe, to focus on the rest of the business.

Mr Dudley, who will report to Mr Hayward, will lead the huge clean-up, co-ordinate with US authorities, assess the environmental impact of the disaster and manage the $20bn (£13.4bn) fund which BP has set up to manage claims.

Mr Hayward said: "Our commitment to the Gulf states is for the long term. And that requires a more permanent sustainable organisation to see it through."

He added: "Having grown up in Mississippi, Bob has a deep appreciation and affinity for the Gulf Coast, and believes deeply in BP's commitment to restore the region."

Mr Dudley has worked for BP since 1999, when the company merged with US firm Amoco.

He spent a turbulent period in charge of BP's Russian joint venture, TNK-BP, and was banned from working in the country during a bitter row with the joint venture's billionaire Russian shareholders.

BP has cancelled its dividend payments for three quarters in an attempt to soothe political fury in the US following the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig on April 20, killing 11 workers.

Mr Hayward, who has fallen foul of the media on several occasions, was attacked by a US Congressional committee last week and faced further criticism over the weekend when he was photographed sailing.

The company has paid out more than $100m (£70m) in claims so far while the total bill for the crisis has soared past $2bn (£1.3bn).

Meanwhile it has emerged that an American judge who struck out the Obama administration's six-month ban on deepwater oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico has extensive investments in the oil and gas industry. US district judge Martin Feldman reported holding nearly $15,000 in shares in Transocean, the company that owned the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig responsible for the BP oil spill disaster.