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BP to hive off ‘toxic’ spill operation

BP is to hive off its Gulf of Mexico oil spill operation to a separate in-house business to be run by an American in a bid to isolate the “toxic” side of the company and dilute some of the anti-British feeling aimed at Chief Executive Tony Hayward, the company said.

business Updated: Jun 06, 2010 21:50 IST

BP is to hive off its Gulf of Mexico oil spill operation to a separate in-house business to be run by an American in a bid to isolate the “toxic” side of the company and dilute some of the anti-British feeling aimed at Chief Executive Tony Hayward, the company said.

The surprise announcement was made during a teleconference with City (of London) and Wall Street analysts in which Hayward attempted to shrug off the personal criticism saying words “could not break his bones”.

BP has faced mounting anger in the US over the accident on April 20, when the Deepwater Horizon rig blew up and sank with the loss of 11 workers’ lives.

The Macondo well continues to spew out oil although a containment cap was placed on top of the leak last week. US Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen, in charge of the federal oil spill relief efforts in the Gulf, said on Sunday BP has made progress with its latest effort to fight the spill but more needs to be done.

Responsibility for the leaking well and the clean-up strategy will be placed in the hands of Bob Dudley, one of the company’s directors.

Dudley, a US citizen, has been looking for a suitable role in the company since he was thrown out of Moscow in a battle with the Russian shareholders of the TNK-BP joint venture in the middle of 2008.

Hayward said the clean-up business would be run separately by Dudley with his own staff but the finances and budget would come from the main BP group. The BP chief executive said the purpose of the split was to allow Dudley to concentrate on the Gulf problem while he and other directors were not distracted from keeping the main business on track.

Hayward said that his priority was sorting out all the wider fallout from the rig disaster and he apologised repeatedly for the loss of lives and ongoing damage.

The Guardian