The announcement this morning, July 27, was greeted by news that Greenpeace claims to have shut down power at 50 petrol stations across London.

Many stations are closed across central London but also in locations like Lewisham in the south east and Strafford in the east of the city.

Although, the firm has said it is working to restore power at ten of the stations, which are mostly franchises and not run directly by BP.

BP also announced today that it has taken a pre-tax charge of $32.2 billion for the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, including the $20 billion compensation fund it had previously announced.

Mr Hayward will be succeeded by fellow executive director Robert Dudley, an American who has been seen as a safe pair of hands over his work handling the spill clean-up.

BP chairman, Carl-Henric Svanberg, said: “The BP board is deeply saddened to lose a CEO whose success over some three years in driving the performance of the company was so widely and deservedly admired.

“The tragedy of the well explosion and subsequent environmental damage has been a watershed incident.

“BP remains a strong business with fine assets, excellent people and a vital role to play in meeting the world’s energy needs.

“But it will be a different company going forward, requiring fresh leadership supported by robust governance and a very engaged board.

“We are highly fortunate to have a successor of the calibre of Mr Dudley who has spent his working life in the oil industry both in the US and overseas and has proved himself a robust operator in the toughest circumstances,”

Mr Dudley, known as Bob, is a 54 year old who runs the recently-established unit responsible for clean-up operations and compensation programmes in the Gulf of Mexico.

He joined BP from Amoco after the merger of the two companies in 1998. He was president and CEO of BP’s Russian joint venture, TNK-BP, until 2008.

“I am honoured to be given the job of rebuilding BP’s strengths and reputation but sad at the circumstances.

“I have the greatest admiration for Tony, both for the job he has done since he became CEO in 2007 and for his unremitting dedication to dealing with the Gulf of Mexico disaster,” Mr Dudley said.

Luke Walsh

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