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Gulf oil spill: Tony Hayward replaced as head of BP oil cleanup effort

June 18, 2010 |  2:00 pm

Tonyhayward
A day after its chief executive's widely panned appearance before Congress, BP said Friday that it would replace Tony Hayward as head of its oil-spill cleanup effort.

In an interview with Britain's Sky News, BP Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg said Hayward will relinquish daily oversight to Robert Dudley, a BP managing director who started his career at Chicago-based Amoco Corp., which BP bought in 1998. Dudley will report to Hayward, who will remain as CEO.

A BP spokesman said afterward that the handoff to Dudley had long been in the works and was publicly announced two weeks ago. But Svanberg's comments appeared to indicate a growing frustration with Hayward's public-relations handling of the crisis, which was capped Thursday by his verbal sparring with members of a House committee investigating the disastrous Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

"It is clear Tony has made remarks that have upset people," Svanberg said.

From early in the crisis, Hayward has made a series of fumbles that critics interpreted as signs of callouness and detachment. His comment to reporters in late May that "I want my life back," sparked a firestorm from those who said it demonstrated BP's disregard for the suffering of those in the gulf region.

The damage worsened in his congressional appearance Thursday. Hayward spoke in a steady monotone, stressed that he wasn't involved in key decisions before the deadly April 20 explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig and wouldn't comment on the cause of the accident.

"Unfortunately in most cases he did not have good answers – or give any answers," said Fadel Gheit, an analyst at Oppenheimer & Co. in New York. "He obviously was unprepared and ill-equipped to go through this inquisition."

-- Walter Hamilton

Photo: Tony Hayward on a despoiled beach in Port Fourchon last month. Credit: Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times

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