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100 days later, BP taps new CEO

 

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One hundred days after the rig explosion that set off the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history, the oil giant behind it is hoping to move beyond the losses, the gaffes and the live video that ran for weeks of the busted well coughing up massive amounts of crude every second.

British Petroleum is replacing CEO Tony Hayward with Managing Director Robert Dudley, selling $30 billion in assets and setting aside $32.2 billion to cover the long-term cost of the spill. It's also claiming a $9.88 billion tax credit in the second quarter based on the $32.2 billion charge.

BP executives were asked in a conference call Tuesday whether they had discussed the tax credit with U.S. authorities.

"We have followed the IRS regulations as they are currently written," Hayward said.

Hayward, who has been repeatedly criticized for other verbal miscues, will step down as CEO Oct. 1 with benefits valued at more than $18 million. BP is recommending him for a nonexecutive board position at its Russian joint venture, TNK-BP.

Hayward told reporters he had been "demonized and vilified" but had no major regrets about his leadership.

"Life isn't fair," he said, but he conceded that wasn't the point. "BP cannot move on in the U.S. with me as its leader."

The White House was not impressed with Hayward's comments.

"What's not fair is what's happened on the Gulf," press secretary Robert Gibbs said Tuesday. "What's not fair is the actions of some have caused the greatest environmental disaster that our country has ever seen."

Dudley defended Hayward's leadership but promised changes in light of the environmental disaster. "There's no question we are going to learn things from this investigation of the incident," he said.

BP said it would become a leaner, higher-quality business through its planned sale of $30 billion in assets. The company has already made a start with the $7 billion sale of gas assets in the United States, Canada and Egypt to Apache Corp. Analysts said BP's estimate of spill costs was on the conservative side. Gheit predicts BP will eventually pay between $30 billion and $60 billion.

Dudley pledged that his company will remain committed to the Gulf region even after the busted well is sealed for good — something that may happen soon. A temporary cap has held back the oil for nearly two weeks, a "static kill" effort to plug the well from above is to begin Monday and a relief well could begin sealing the well from the bottom for good with mud and cement days after that.

 
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