NEW ORLEANS — BP’s chairman said Friday that CEO Tony Hayward is on his way out as the company’s point man on the Gulf oil spill crisis, a day after Hayward enraged members of Congress by offering few answers about how the environmental disaster happened. Other BP officials, however, said the switch had been previously announced and will not take place for some time.
BP Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg told Britain’s Sky News television on Friday that Hayward “is now handing over the operations, the daily operations to (BP Managing Director) Bob Dudley.” BP had said this month that Dudley would take over the long-term response to the spill once the leak was stopped, but millions of gallons continue to spew and that milestone remains months away.
Svanberg’s statement sowed confusion, with other BP officials saying Hayward remains in charge.
“Until the acute part of this crisis is over, until the leak is capped, Tony Hayward is still very much in charge in the response of this crisis,” BP spokesman Robert Wine said.
Wine said Hayward “will at some point hand over the management of the aftermath,” and that Dudley is putting together a team that will “make sure that the long-term impacts are met with as well as the legal, political repercussions from this crisis.”
There is no date for the handover, Wine said, because “clearly the well is still leaking.”
The chairman’s comments overshadowed some positive news in the cleanup effort. Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen announced earlier Friday a newly expanded containment system is capturing or incinerating more than 1 million gallons of oil daily, the first time it has approached its peak capacity.