BP denies Hayward to resign as oil disaster costs soar

28th June 2010, Comments 0 comments

BP denied on Monday that its under-fire chief executive Tony Hayward was set to resign over the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, after revealing that the crisis has so far cost 2.65 billion dollars.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin, preparing to meet Hayward on Monday, said the British boss was to resign and present a successor, Russian news agencies reported.

However, a BP company spokeswoman insisted that Hayward was not stepping down.

"Tony Hayward remains chief executive and is not resigning," she told AFP. According to the Interfax and RIA Novosti news agencies, Sechin had said that "Hayward is leaving his post and will present a successor".

The BP boss was due in Moscow on Monday to meet Sechin, the Russian government's energy supremo, as the oil giant wrestles with the liabilities from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Hayward, who has faced severe criticism from US President Barack Obama over his handling of the crisis, last week handed over management of the oil spill to another senior manager, Bob Dudley, who is a US national.

BP on Monday raised the cost so far of its oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico to 2.65 billion dollars (2.14 billion euros), an increase of about 300 million dollars over the weekend.

"The cost of the response to date amounts to approximately 2.65 billion dollars, including the cost of the spill response, containment, relief well drilling, grants to the Gulf states, claims paid, and federal costs," BP said in a statement.

"It is too early to quantify other potential costs and liabilities associated with the incident," it added.

The costs for BP are rising sharply on a daily basis. On Friday the bill stood at 2.35 billion dollars.

But these figures are a drop in the ocean compared to the billions of dollars wiped off its market value.

BP's share price has collapsed by more than 50 percent since the Deepwater Horizon oil rig which the company operated sank on April 22, two days after a blast killed 11 workers.

The shares slumped close to a 14-year low point on Friday but won back some ground to finish with a gain of 1.20 percent at 308.25 pence on Monday.

London's FTSE 100 leading shares index, on which BP is listed, won 0.50 percent in value to close at 5,071.68 points.

BP was also hit last week by fears that Tropical Storm Alex could hamper the company's clean-up efforts in the Gulf of Mexico.

After coming under intense pressure from Obama over the worst ever US environmental disaster, BP has agreed to suspend its shareholder dividend and create a 20-billion-dollar fund for costs arising from the spill.

BP is also selling non-core assets to raise 10 billion dollars, while international ratings agencies have downgraded the company's credit worthiness.

Although Obama has vowed to hold BP accountable, the president has agreed with British Prime Minister David Cameron that the company should "remain a strong and stable company".

"The leaders agreed that BP should meet its obligations to cap the leak, clean up the damage and meet legitimate compensation claims," Cameron's office said in a statement issued after the meeting held before the G20 leaders' weekend summit in Toronto, Canada.

"They also agreed that it was to both countries' advantage for BP to remain a strong and stable company," Downing Street added.

A senior US administration official added that both leaders had agreed "BP has certain obligations and that those obligations have got to be met".

On Friday, Cameron warned against the "destruction" of the company, saying it was "important for all our interests".

Despite desperate efforts, BP is still not capping all of the 35,000 to 60,000 barrels of oil estimated to be spilling into the sea every day, saying it is managing to contain about 25,000 barrels daily.


© 2010 AFP

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