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BP lines up likely replacement for CEO Tony Hayward

Oil giant BP is expected to announce soon that American Bob Dudley, who heads the company's efforts to contain the spill in the Gulf of Mexico, is to replace Tony Hayward as chief executive of the British firm.

Protestors stand behind BP CEO Tony Hayward

BP is under pressure to restore its image in the US

The board of oil giant BP is meeting on Monday to discuss plans for the company's top management, in response to the disastrous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

BP, which is under pressure from US lawmakers and the American government over its handling of the spill, is likely to announce that current chief executive Tony Hayward is to step down to make way for Bob Dudley, the American executive who is leading BP's efforts to clean up the spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Restoring confidence

"As an American he [Dudley] may well be more acceptable to the US political machine than the other alternatives for the role, which could serve to better protect value in the US for BP long term," Jason Kenney, oil analyst at ING in Edinburgh, Scotland, told the Reuters news agency.

A member of Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal's staff stirs thick oil on the water's surface in the Northern regions of Barataria Bay in Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana

Four million barrels of oil are believed to have leaked into the sea

Before heading BP's clean-up operation in the Gulf, Dudley navigated joint venture in Russia through a dispute between BP and its oligarch partners.

He is seen as an experienced negotiator, but he will also have to improve BP's safety record to restore confidence among US lawmakers. He would be the first American to head the UK company.

In the past five years, BP has had to deal with three of the oil industry's most expensive safety and environmental incidents. An explosion in a Texas refinery in 2005 killed 15 workers, while an oil spill in Alaska the year after led to millions of dollars in fines.

The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, caused by the explosion and subsequent sinking of the oil rig Deepwater Horizon in April of this year, killed 11 workers and is the biggest environmental disaster ever in the US

BP was the largest British company by market capitalization at the time of the explosion, but has seen its market share plunge by about 36 percent since April. Hayward took over as chief executive of BP from Lord Browne in 2007.

Author: Nicole Goebel (Reuters/AP)
Editor: Rob Turner

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