Published June 21, 2010
BP Chief Tony Hayward may have been yachting around England over the weekend because his duties at the oil giant are being handed over to the company's managing director.
BP spokeswoman Sheila Williams confirmed to Fox News on Monday that Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg has decided to sideline Hayward.
"The transition of day-to-day handling by BP Managing Director Robert Dudley of the oil spill cleanup has started," Williams said.
On Friday, Svanberg told Fox News sister network Sky News in the United Kingdom that Hayward would remain in charge of the oil spill response until the leak is stopped -- which could be August or later -- but Dudley will take over in the Gulf of Mexico.
Svanberg said comments by Hayward have had a detrimental effect on the company as it seeks to control the fallout from the April 20 explosion that caused a massive gusher that's now in its 63rd day.
"It is clear Tony has made remarks that have upset people," he told Sky News.
Hayward has repeatedly put his foot in his mouth since the Deepwater Horizon spill began, most notably for saying shortly after the explosion that killed 11 people that he'd like his life back
Hayward caused an additional uproar over the weekend by participating in a yachting race around England's Isle of Wight. Hayward entered his 52-foot yacht named "Bob" into The JP Morgan-sponsored race. It finished fourth in its class.
Williams had little to say about the sailing race or the appearance it created.
"It was a rare private time for Mr. Hayward to share with his son and that is all we are going to say about this," she said.
But Hayward's announcement that he had canceled a scheduled appearance at a London oil conference on Tuesday to focus on the Gulf suggested fallout from the yacht race had not ended.
BP spokesman Jon Pack said Monday that Hayward's "very heavy schedule of commitments to the Gulf of Mexico" had led him to cancel his appearance at the World National Oil Companies Congress.
Hayward had been due to give the keynote speech about the global responsibilities of international oil companies.
BP is trying to shake off a series of PR blunders that have made the oil giant appear out of touch with the human victims of the oil spill -- primarily Gulf Coast fishers, trawlers and tourism operators.
BP last week agreed to create a $20 billion escrow account to pay for claims from thousands of workers whose businesses are collapsing as a result of the spill. Dudley told Bloomberg News on Monday that BP is reviewing assets for potential sale to cover the expected costs.
Williams would not comment about any decisions made Sunday by the BP board of directors about whether to sell assets to bolster cash flow.
BP's troubles continue to grow after Anadarko, the co-owner of BP's rig, said the oil firm's actions before the accident at the Deepwater Horizon site were "reckless."
On top of that, BBC is airing a documentary Monday night featuring allegations by one Deepwater Horizon rig worker who said he spotted a leak in the blowout preventer (BOP) two weeks prior to the explosion.
Tyrone Benton, a robot operator, said one of the robot's cameras spotted a leak on a control pod of the BOP, which is an emergency shutoff valve fixed to the wellhead on the seafloor.
Benton told BBC that supervisors shut down the one BOP and turned on another so that work wouldn't stop.
"They have a control room where they could turn off that pod and turn on the other one, so that they don't have to stop production," Benton said.
"We are aware of the allegation," Williams said of Benton's claims, adding that the details that led to the explosions and fire are still under investigation and BP has not spoken with every witness yet.
"The (blowout preventer) was part of the Deepwater Horizon equipment which was owned and operated by Transocean. Transocean was responsible for both the operation and maintenance of the BOP on the drilling rig," she added.
Fox News' Greg Palkot and The Associated Press contributed to this report.