BP CEO Tony Hayward, who has been much maligned for a series of verbal missteps during the Gulf oil disaster (though his company’s conduct and failures leading to the disaster would presumably be disqualifying as well) will leave the company, according to multiple reports and government officials. Hayward would continue on the corporate board through the end of the year, but would end his tenure as CEO by October 1.
In a move to reset the corporate image of BP, Hayward will be replaced by Robert Dudley, an American and the current Managing Director of the company. He would become BP’s first American CEO.
A White House official told the Wall Street Journal that the Administration played no role in the resignation of Hayward, and that it was a decision of BP’s board.
Hayward leaves behind a still-unresolved situation at the bottom of the Gulf. The containment dome over the gushing Macondo well remains in place, but between 94 and 184 million gallons have spilled into the ocean, and the ships supporting the cleanup effort have scattered in the wake of Tropical Storm Bonnie and are only now returning to the area. The relief wells, seen as the only permanent solution, have yet to be completed, and of course the massive cleanup has barely begun. Residents were skeptical that Hayward’s departure would matter much to their immediate concerns, or that BP would salvage their reputation through this move:
But other Gulf residents shrugged upon hearing the news. The oil, they said, has already done its damage.
“It doesn’t matter,” said Chris Foss, a 39-year-old boat captain from Port Sulphur. “Whatever happens with the corporate dudes is irrelevant. The only thing that matters is what they are going to do about this mess.”
Patrick Shay, 43, sat on a porch swing of his cottage in Grand Isle on Sunday, his front yard filled with small, white crosses, each bearing the name of sea life or ways of life the oil spill has killed.
“He seems like a pretty self-absorbed person, so I’m not surprised to hear he would walk away in the middle of all this,” he said of Hayward. “If anything it will help. They need to get him out of the way and get this cleaned up.”
But while the worries should continue for Gulf residents, not so for Hayward. He stands to collect nearly 600,000 pounds ($900,000) per year upon retirement, and could see a seven-figure golden parachute on top of that.