BP boss 'negotiating exit'

Embattled BP chief executive Tony Hayward is negotiating his exit package with an announcement on his future expected in the coming 24 hours, it was reported today.

The Press Association learned that the BP board will meet tomorrow ahead of Tuesday's release of the oil giant's latest interim results.

Meanwhile the BBC has claimed that Mr Hayward is currently in talks over a compensation deal, with the outcome likely to be settled and made public by the close of tomorrow.

A spokesman for BP maintained that the chief executive continued to have the "full support of the board and senior management" and that the company would not comment on "speculation".

The massive compensation and clean-up costs associated with the Deepwater Horizon oil spill is likely to have plunged BP into the red for the first time since 1992, quarterly results are expected to show on Tuesday.

Tomorrow's board meeting would have taken place as a matter of course, sources have said.

But it has nonetheless led to speculation that it will prove the catalyst to any announcement regarding Mr Hayward's exit.

The chief executive - a BP employee for 28 years - has been repeatedly singled out for attack over his handling of the Gulf of Mexico disaster.

Last month he faced a barrage of criticism in front of a fired-up Senate committee in Washington.

During a lengthy grilling with US politicians he was accused of presiding over "astonishing" corporate complacency.

It will be announced in the coming days if Mr Hayward is to face a second bruising encounter on Capitol Hill.

The US Senate foreign relations committee want him to answer questions over BP's alleged role in the release of Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi

A BP spokesman said yesterday that the firm "will respond" to requests from the committee and "will offer someone", but has not said who.

Many are now tipping Robert Dudley - the man who replaced Mr Hayward overseeing day-to-day operations in the Gulf - as his likely successor.

Amongst all the gloom for BP, there was better news today regarding the actual clean-up operation.

A tropical storm that forced relief workers to evacuate the site on Friday fizzled out, allowing ships to begin returning.

Engineers are now hoping that clear weather will last long enough for them to finish their work on the relief wells.

Mud and cement will then be pumped into the broken well through the relief tunnels in a bid to permanently seal the outlet.

It is hoped that the operation could be completed by mid-August.

But that plan could be further disrupted by poor weather. The hurricane season is set to last until November 30.

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