Gulf of Mexico oil spill: BP’s Doug Suttles to retire


The oil giant said on Wednesday that Mr Suttles was retiring from his role as chief operating officer of BP’s exploration and production division in the US. He has spent more than 22 years at the company.

The oil spill has claimed some prominent scalps at BP, with chief executive Tony Hayward stepping down to be replaced by Bob Dudley, an American.

Andy Inglis, the director of exploration and production, has left to join Petrofac, the fast-growing oil services company.

In an internal email to staff, Mr Dudley wrote: “In his role as chief operating officer of exploration and production, he was instrumental in the initial response to the Deepwater Horizon spill.”

Mr Suttles was the face of operational briefings during the spill and led the technical response to stopping the oil leak.

His public statements were less controversial than some of the gaffes made by BP’s other top management.

However, at one point the company had to issue a clarification after he mistakenly implied that it could return to drilling at the site of the exploded well once the leak was stopped.

Mr Suttles worked at Exxon before joining BP to work in Alaska, the North Sea, Trinidad and Russia.

He then became a board member of BP America in early 2007 and chief operating officer of exploration and production in early 2009.

BP’s exploration and production has received a shake-up since the spill, having long been regarded as the heart of the oil giant.

It has now been split into several divisions – exploration, development and production – in a move designed to improve the management of risk.

Following the reorganisation, BP’s new divisions are being led by Mike Daly, head of exploration; Bernard Looney, chief of development; Bob Fryar, boss of production; and Andy Hopwood, who is in charge of strategy.

Separately, Carl-Henric Svanberg, the chairman of BP, quashed rumours that he could take the top job at Volvo’s truck business, after being named by a Swedish newspaper as the favourite candidate.

“I have no plans to take on any major roles elsewhere,” Mr Svanberg said. “Almost all of my time is currently devoted to BP.”

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Stuart H. Smith is an attorney based in New Orleans fighting major oil companies and other polluters.
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