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Former BP exploration boss takes second big-paying job since oil spill

The head of BP exploration at the time of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill has jumped ship for a second time to run a US oil explorer – and will earn up to $10.3m in his first year.

Andy Inglis is quitting the oil industry services firm Petrofac, which he joined with a £1m golden hello in 2011 after leaving BP. He is joining Kosmos Energy, a Dallas "wildcat" explorer – one that drills in virgin territory that has not been explored before.

His joining package dwarfs what he was offered by Petrofac, with a "sign on bonus" of $1.68m cash and $3.5m in shares just for starters. On top of that, he will get a $900,000 basic salary which can be boosted by a bonus of up to $1.8m if he beats his performance targets. Furthermore, he could pick up a $2.25m long-term incentive plan bonus every year, while the company will put $150,000 into the pot to cover the 54-year-old's move to Texas.

Before his division at BP arguably presided over the worst US environmental disaster ever, Mr Inglis was seen as a potential chief executive of the British giant, but the catastrophe, which killed 11 people, put paid to any such ambitions. However, his new pay package dwarfs the £3.7m which BP's chief executive, Bob Dudley, earned last year.

Mr Inglis escaped the worst of the media and political glare over the Gulf of Florida spill because Tony Hayward, then BP's chief executive, believed it was his job to take the flak. However, Mr Inglis's departure from BP was announced in September 2010 when Mr Dudley, an American, took the helm in what was seen as an attempt to detoxify the company's name in North America.

Greenpeace and other environmental groups were expected to condemn his appointment to lead a business that could be, by definition, operating in previously unspoilt terrain. Wildcat developers counter that they bring economic prosperity to parts of the world that, in many cases, are impoverished.

Mr Inglis, who comes from Sale in Cheshire and was educated at Cambridge, is a mechanical engineer by training. His work at the 10-year-old Kosmos will be to build on its successful finds in Africa.

In 2007 Kosmos found one of the biggest West African deposits in 10 years, off the coast of Ghana.

The company's stock market value has surged to $4.4bn since then although it slowed spending on exploration in the years after the financial crisis.

It now has high hopes of finding deposits off the coast of Morocco and other areas targeted by bigger players, such as Chevron.

Mr Inglis said: "This company is poised for a second inning, building on that [Ghana] success, and with the potential in Morocco to do something very similar again."

Mr Inglis is far from alone in seeing his financial fortunes leap since the Gulf spill. His former boss, Mr Hayward, is getting ever closer to scooping millions of pounds from Genel Energy, which he co-founded with a number of investors including Nat Rothschild to explore in Kurdistan.

Shares have to stay above £12.50 for 20 trading days out of 30 to trigger about £100m in bonuses. They are currently trading at £11.00.