Tony Hayward to Exit as BP CEO

Tony Hayward will officially relinquish his seat as CEO of BP PLC starting October 1, a move that has been widely speculated following his dismal handling of the worst oil spill to hit the United States.

BP said on Tuesday that American Robert Dudley will replace Hayward as chief executive of the British oil giant, even as it announced that it would set aside at least $30 billion for the Gulf of Mexico oil spill despite a record quarterly loss of $17 billion in the April to June period. The replacement of Hayward comes as BP is set to begin permanently plugging the Macondo well on the Deepwater Horizon, which spewed oil for almost three months following an explosion on April 20.

The company has vowed to initiate significant changes from within its organization, with chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg promising that a new BP will emerge from the accident. “We are taking a hard look at ourselves, what we do and how we do it. What we learn will have implications for our ways of working, our strategy and our governance.”

One of those changes is to streamline the company by selling $30 billion in assets, whose proceeds are expected to help the British giant reduce debt and give it more financial flexibility in the future.

Hayward, whose gaffes in handling the tragedy hastened his exit, said it was for the best that the company be under a new leadership as it tries to clean up the Gulf, adding that he will never deny responsibility for the terrible incident. “The Gulf of Mexico explosion was a terrible tragedy for which ā€” as the man in charge of BP when it happened ā€” I will always feel a deep responsibility, regardless of where blame is ultimately found to lie,” he said.