Hayward, who infamously went yachting as his company's broken oil well created an unprecedented ecological disaster in the
But BP moved up that timetable within the last two
weeks, a source close to the BP board said, and is likely to cut him
loose Tuesday at the company's second-quarter earnings teleconference,
replacing him with Managing Director
Dudley, the company's highest ranking American executive, was recently put in charge of BP's operations in the
Hayward's potential ouster may come even as BP moves significantly closer to permanently shutting its runaway well off the
With the withered threat of Tropical Storm Bonnie
behind them, crews who had evacuated the site last week were back at
work on the open water Sunday, preparing for the steps that should lead
to the "bottom kill" gambit that is expected to permanently jam the
well with mud and concrete thousands of feet below the ocean floor. The
tropical storm delayed those plans by seven to nine days, but did not
otherwise change them, said
The BP board was reportedly meeting over the weekend and had more meetings planned for Monday. But publicly, BP continued to withhold comment on Hayward's future.
"We don't comment on speculation or rumors," said
The crippled BP well had been spewing as much as
60,000 barrels of oil a day into the Gulf until the flow was stopped in
mid-July. The disaster began
Hayward was responsible for a number of the company's high-profile public-relations blunders. Apart from the outing on his racing yacht, he said in May that "I'd like my life back."
In hearings before Congress, Hayward was less than forthcoming and repeatedly deflected blame. When U.S. Rep.
"No, yes or no. Reckless behavior or not?" Stearns asked.
"There is no evidence of reckless behavior," Hayward said.
Fairly or not, Hayward became a target of public
rage. In the New York Daily News, he was branded "the most hated — and
clueless — man in America." His yachting excursion became a favorite
topic for late-night comedians. President
Hayward, who is British, had been expected to leave at a later date, but several factors seemed to be accelerating beyond BP's ability to manage them. One was the fact that BP shares, while rebounding from their worst depths since the disaster, were not rising quickly enough and could fall again if storm-related delays slowed the process of permanently sealing the well.
"The board has decided enough was enough. I thought
it would have happened before now. This is not a big surprise. A change
at the top, they hope, will help them," said
Last week's revelations at the oil-spill hearings in suburban
In contrast to the tumult in the executive's office, BP discovered a much hoped-for stability when crews returned to the well this weekend, after evacuating for the tropical storm.
BP and the federal government had decided to keep the well totally sealed at the top while the storm passed, despite concerns that capping it could exacerbate potential leaks in the pipes below. In a phone conference with reporters Sunday, Allen said that the pressure and temperature readings inside the well remained "consistent with the well having integrity," meaning no harm had been done — and that crews could pick up where they left off in their efforts to solve the problem.
Over the next week, workers will continue work on the relief well that will eventually intersect the original well, plugging it with mud and concrete. One key interim step involves laying the last stretch of casing pipe in the 17,000-plus-foot relief well, and cementing it in place.
Then — sometime during the week of
Experts hope that a successful static kill will make it easier to fully seal the well with the relief well, which Allen has called the "ultimate solution" to the problem.
(Fausset reported from
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