Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg of BP will expand his role in the BP disaster as well as remove CEO Tony Hayward from the primary spokesman role in the company’s efforts to stem the fallout from the Deepwater Horizon debacle, a catastrophe that has turned into a PR, political and environmental nightmare.
reports Hayward has been relieved of his role as the primary voice over the incident, turning that job over to Robert Dudley, the company’s managing director.
Before joining BP, Dudley was president and chief executive of Russia’s TNK-BP, the country’s third largest oil and gas company.
Svanberg said Hayward’s previous comments during the first two months of the disaster have been detrimental to the company’s efforts at controlling the tide of public criticism directed toward the oil giant.
"It is clear Tony has made remarks that have upset people," Svanberg said.
Svanberg explained Hayward’s role in the oil catastrophe was expressly for the purpose of dealing with the oil spill response, but capping the flow has not gone according to plan.
"Everyone thought it would be done faster,"he added.
Compounding Hayward’s previous gaffes in the PR nightmare was his deflective attitude at Thursday’s House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee
Hayward's most famous comment over the oil company's fiasco came on May 14 when he said: ""The Gulf of Mexico is a big ocean. The amount of oil and dispersant we are putting into it is tiny in relation to the total water volume."
Before that, he placed blame on everyone but BP. On May 4 he said: "This was not our accident...This was Transocean's rig. Their systems. Their people. Their equipment."
On May 30 he stated: "No one wants this over more than I do. I would like my life back." Apparently, thanks to Svanberg, he will now have more time to get that.
"This has now turned into a reputation matter, a financial squeeze for BP and a political matter and that is why you will now see more of me," Svanberg said.
Svanberg’s announcement comes after Thursday’s committee hearing as well as his 25 minute private meeting on Wednesday with President Obama, a meeting focused on the BP response since the April 20 explosion killed 11 workers.
"As this is now turning to a different type of crisis, that is where I come in," he said.
Stepping in where Hayward left off, Svanberg called the Gulf of Mexico disaster “a low probability accident with very high consequences.”
Svanberg’s most notable comment to date is his reference to the “small people
” being impacted by the worst environmental disaster in US history.
He would not confirm nor comment on any major overhauls to the company’s hierarchy.
"I still strongly believe in BP and that we will come through this," Svanberg said.
"This incident is a tragic one and something that should never have happened," he added.
Company shares on the US stock market have gone up after the initial announcement.