BP CEO Tony Hayward Reportedly to Step Down, Take Post in Russian Venture

BP appears to have had enough of its embattled CEO, and are sending him to the Russian front -- literally.

The oil giant's chief executive, Tony Hayward, will step down from BP's top post in October and take a job with TNK-BP, the company's joint venture in Russia, Sky News reported Monday.

Hayward, who became the face of BP's flailing efforts to contain the Gulf of Mexico oil spill and clean up millions in damages, will likely be replaced by BP managing director Robert Dudley.

BP said earlier Monday that "no final decision" had been made about management changes, which reportedly include the departure of Hayward as chief executive in an effort to mend the company's image after the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

The oil company said its board would meet Monday evening, a day before it announces earnings for the second quarter.

The BP board would have to approve a change in company leadership.

"BP notes the press speculation over the weekend regarding potential changes to management and the charge for the costs of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. BP confirms that no final decision has been made on these matters," the company said in a statement to the London Stock Exchange.

The Obama administration has called on the company to meet its clean-up obligations, despite changes in management.

"BP cannot, should not and will not leave the Gulf without meeting its responsibilities to plug the well, to clean up the damage that's been caused and to compensate those that have been damaged. I think that is the most important lesson out of here," White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters.

"Regardless of who leads the company, those obligations and responsibilities must be met," he said.

Hayward, 53, had become a lightning rod for outrage in the United States about the spill, which started on April 20 with an explosion and fire on the Deepwater Horizon rig. Eleven workers died in the disaster.

Hayward's comment that he was eager to resolve the incident "so that I can have my life back" antagonized his critics in the United States.

Dudley, currently heading the effort to clean up the Gulf Coast, figured prominently in speculation about Hayward's likely successor. Dudley is currently BP's managing director, and grew up partly in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. He spent 20 years at Amoco Corp., which merged with BP in 1998, and lost out to Hayward on the CEO's slot three years ago.

He took over from Hayward as the point man on the cleanup in June. Last week, BP said the cost of dealing with the spill had reached nearly $4 billion, but that it was too early to quantify the eventual total cost.

Hayward joined BP in 1982 as a geologist, and currently makes 1.045 million pounds (US$1.6 million) a year as the company's head, according to its annual report. In 2009, he received a performance bonus of more than 2 million pounds plus other remuneration, bringing his total pay package to more than 4 million pounds.

BP is in the process of selling assets to raise $10 billion toward a $20 billion fund that will finance the cleanup of the mess in the Gulf. BP announced last week that it had sold properties in the United States, Canada and Egypt to Apache Corp. for $7 billion.

Under pressure from President Obama, BP also has announced that it will pay no more dividends to shareholders this year.

The Associated Press and Newscore contributed to this report