BP CEO Says He Will Stay, but Chairman May Be Fired

BP Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg (L), former BP Chairman Peter Sutherland (C), BP CEO Tony Hayward (R)
BP Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg (L), former BP Chairman Peter Sutherland (C), BP CEO Tony Hayward (R)

BP (BP) CEO Tony Hayward says he will stay in his job. It's an odd claim.

Hayward toldThe Sunday Telegraph "the thought of stepping down 'had not crossed [his] mind,' despite U.S. public hostility to his handling of the crisis." He also said that he wasn't concerned the he would end up in prison because of a criminal investigation into the spill being conducted by U.S. authorities.

The decision to stay is obviously not Hayward's. Although Carl-Henric Svanberg, the huge oil company's chairman since June 2009, told investors that there was no plan to push Hayward out, his own job as head of BP's board may be in jeopardy, if calls for his head by some BP directors become the majority view.

The Sunday
Independentreports that some BP directors want Svanberg "sacked because they claim his mishandling of the Gulf of Mexico disaster has turned a crisis into a catastrophe."

Rumors Can Come True

The British press may be speculating about the fate of the two men, and there haven't been any definitive reports that either is one the way out, but that may change. The new BP collection device put on the pipe damaged by the Deepwater Horizon explosion collected 6,000 barrels of oil on Friday, but that is only about 25% of the amount leaking by most estimates. Several scientists believe that the spill will hit Florida and then move up the East Coast.

The fates of both the CEO and chairman of BP are in the hands of the company's board, and the board may have good reason to keep them on. It would be hard for new executives to be completely prepared for the challenging job. Changing horses in the middle of a stream is often a mistake, and the stream couldn't get much wider or deeper that the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe.