BP chief executive Tony Hayward to step down

London (dpa) – BP Plc chief executive Tony Hayward is to step down following intense criticism of his handling of the worst oil spill in US history, the British Broadcasting Corporation reported Sunday.

Hayward negotiated the conditions for his departure with the British oil giant over the weekend, according to reports by several media outlets.

The BBC said an official announcement is to follow within the next 24 hours, while the Independent newspaper reported that Hayward plans to announce his resignation on Tuesday.

According to the BBC, the 53-year-old is likely to be replaced by his US colleague, Bob Dudley, who took the lead in handling BP’s efforts to contain the spill over from Hayward in mid-June.

A BP spokesman on Sunday would neither confirm nor deny the reports, which are based on industry sources.

“Hayward has the full support of the board and senior management,” Tony Odone told the German Press Agency dpa.

BP board members are due to meet on Monday to vote on Hayward’s fate. Odone said the board would merely give its blessing to whatever decision Hayward makes.

According to BP, he earned 3.1 million pounds (4 million dollars) in salary and bonuses last year. His career at the British company spans 28 years.

Hayward had been widely criticized for his poor crisis management and inappropriate remarks during the ongoing spill in the Gulf of Mexico, which followed an explosion in April at the offshore Deepwater Horizon oil rig from which BP had been drilling a well.

The company is expected to release the findings of an inquiry into the causes of the spill next month.

Prior to that, it will unveil its financial results for the first half of 2010 on Tuesday. Analysts expect that BP has achieved earnings of 10 billion dollars despite the oil spill.

But it is also anticipated that BP will have earmarked up to 30 billion dollars on its balance sheet for repair costs, compensation claims and fines related to the spill – generating an overall deficit for the second quarter, the first for BP in several decades.