BP mulling break-up after Gulf of Mexico oil spill: report

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Oil giant BP could split itself up by scaling back its US operations and selling refineries and petrol stations in the wake of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, Britain's Sunday Times newspaper reported.

The troubled British-based firm is facing a battle to rebuild its reputation following the worst environmental disaster in US history, which may now have been contained following the capping of a ruptured oil well.

Directors of the firm are at an early stage of canvassing shareholders about possible options, which include increasing the amount of in-house engineering which takes place, rather than outsourcing it, the paper said.

"BP seems to have accepted that it will be a smaller business. It is prepared to consider anything," an unidentified investor told the Sunday Times.

Some investors are also now reportedly considering whether chief executive Tony Hayward, who faced heavy criticism for a series of public relations blunders during the crisis, could stay on, despite previous calls for him to quit.

The Mail on Sunday reported that BP's board would meet Thursday to decide on the first in a series of asset sell-offs.

BP has so far spent at least 3.5 billion dollars dealing with the spill, and compensation claims could eventually cost 10 times that amount.

A spokesman for the firm declined to comment.

© 2010 AFP

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