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Beleaguered BP Boss Relinquishes Gulf Spill Management Duties

  • Tom Rivers

Beleaguered BP boss Tony Hayward has handed over his Gulf of Mexico oil spill duties to another senior manager in the firm. Meanwhile, British Prime Minister David Cameron says he remains in close communication with President Barack Obama regarding the latest developments.

The man now in charge of BP's Gulf team is Bob Dudley, president and chief executive officer of the company's Gulf Coast Restoration Organization. According to the firm's London office, he will report to Tony Hayward, BP's group chief executive.

Dudley, an American from the Gulf state of Mississippi, is now the high-profile point man for the embattled company as it continues to stop the gusher and deal with the economic damage it is causing.

Some of Hayward's comments were interpreted as insensitive in the United States, and when he decided to go yachting last weekend around the Isle of Wight in southern England, there were renewed calls for him to go.

Recently, many U.S. members of Congress on the House Energy and Commerce Committee were infuriated when Hayward appeared before them and denied he had any direct responsibility for the decisions that may have led to the disaster on the Deepwater Horizon rig on April 20.

In Britain, Prime Minister David Cameron told his parliamentary colleagues he has spoken twice to President Barack Obama about the disaster. His last call, he said on Tuesday.

"The point I made particularly in the earlier phone call is the importance of, yes of course BP itself wants to pay for the cleanup, wants to stop the gushing of the oil into the Gulf, recognizes it is going to have to pay money in respect of fisherman and others who have lost their livelihoods, but we do want to make sure that this remains a strong and stable company for our benefit, but also for the benefit of the United States," said Cameron.

BP has agreed to put $20 billion into an escrow account to deal with Gulf compensation claims and many believe that figure will have to increase over time.

In the House of Commons, Cameron underlined that BP must remain viable and that it is in a very real sense a multi-national concern.

"Over 40 percent of its shareholders I believe are U.S. shareholders, 39 percent here in the U.K. and it employs more people in the U.S. than it does in the U.K., so it is in all our interests, this company is strong and secure for the future," said Cameron.

According to his 10 Downing Street office, Cameron intends to press Mr. Obama this coming weekend at the G-8 summit in Toronto for more clarity on the costs BP may ultimately have to cover.