London, England (CNN) – Outgoing BP Chief Executive Tony Hayward was due to appear Wednesday before a British parliamentary committee investigating the implications of the Gulf oil disaster on deepwater drilling.
The Energy and Climate Change Committee is looking at the government’s moratorium on deepwater drilling in Britain and whether existing safety and environmental standards need updating in light of the massive spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
Hayward came under fire for his handling of the spill, one of the worst in U.S. history.
He will step down as chief executive, effective October 1.
As the head of the company, Hayward became a lightning rod for public and political anger since the drill rig operated by BP exploded in the Gulf of Mexico in April. The disaster killed 11 workers and ruptured a well deep below the surface.
The spill, which Hayward himself called an environmental catastrophe, fouled large portions of the coastline in Louisiana, Mississippi and Florida. It has also crippled the Gulf Coast economy and led to a government-imposed moratorium on deepwater oil drilling in the region.
Since he was thrust into the spotlight, Hayward has made a number of high-profile gaffes that critics say illustrated his lack of sensitivity for those hurt by the spill. In May, he botched an expression of sympathy by saying he’d like his life back, a slip for which he later apologized.