BP crack downs on safety in major shake-up

Head of exploration division at time of Deepwater Horizon explosion to leave

BP tried to turn the tide against its battered reputation yesterday, creating a new safety and risk division and reshuffling its top team of managers just two days before Bob Dudley takes over as the energy giant's new chief executive.

Andy Inglis, the current head of the Upstream business, who was in charge of drilling at the time of the Gulf of Mexico spill, will also leave the company. The spokesman declined to say whether Mr Inglis had been made redundant, but confirmed that his "role has disappeared".

The changes follow the explosion in April on the group's Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf of Mexico, which killed 11 employees and led to the worst oil spill in US history. The company finally sealed the leaking Macondo well last week.

"These are the first and most urgent steps in a programme I am putting in place to rebuild trust in BP – the trust of our customers, of governments, of our employees and of the world at large," Mr Dudley said.

"That trust is vital to the restoration of shareholder value which has been so adversely affected by recent events. The changes are in areas where I believe we most clearly need to act, with safety and risk management our most urgent priority."

The company hopes that the move will assuage the anger that has followed both the spill, and BP's initial reaction to it. On 14 May, more than a month after the explosion, outgoing chief executive Tony Hayward said: "the Gulf of Mexico is a very big ocean. The amount of volume of oil and dispersant we are putting into it is tiny in relation to the total water volume."

Later, referring to the extra work the disaster had caused, he told reporters, "I want my life back".

BP said yesterday that its new safety unit would have "sweeping powers to oversee and audit the company's operations around the world" and would have staff imbedded in BP's operating units, with the "authority to intervene in all aspects of BP's technical activities".

The department will be headed by Mark Bly, who is already the company's head of safety, and had overall responsibility for safety on the Deepwater Horizon. A spokesman said that Mr Bly's role would be strengthened and he would now be given a seat on the executive leadership team. He will report directly to Mr Dudley.

"I sincerely hope it will work, but safety was a cornerstone of the strategy before the Deepwater accident," said Dougie Youngson, an analyst at Arbuthnot Securities. "It is a positive first step, but we'll have to wait and see how effective it will be."

BP faced criticism for its safety record before the Deepwater Horizon accident, especially in the United States. In 2005, an explosion at the company's Texas City oil refinery killed 17 workers, and injured more than 170.

As part of the changes, which BP said yesterday were already planned but speeded up after the decision was taken to replace Mr Hayward, the group will split its Upstream business – the exploration and production arm – into three divisions: Exploration, Development and Production. The three units are to carry out a "detailed and wide-ranging review of how it manages third-party contractors".

BP has accepted responsibility for the accident, and has set up a $20bn escrow fund to compensate the victims, but has also sought to share responsibility with US group Transocean – the owner and operator of the rig – and Halliburton, which was contracted to perform several services related to the drilling. The disaster happened after signs that pressure was building at the Macondo well head were missed.

BP also said that it will conduct a fundamental review of how the group incentivises business performance, including reward strategy, with the aim of encouraging excellence in safety and risk management.

Mr Hayward is set to join BP's Russian joint venture, TNK-BP.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Evening Administrator

£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This Pension Specialist was established early...

Guru Careers: Executive Assistant / PA

£30 - 35k + Bonus & Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking an Executive Assist...

Ashdown Group: Graduate Application Support Analyst

£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...

Reach Volunteering: External Finance Trustee Needed!

Voluntary post, reasonable expenses reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: Would you ...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot