BP hunts for successor as chairman looks to retire

The chairman of BP has announced plans to step down from the oil major, sparking a hunt for his successor.

Carl-Henric Svanberg, who took up the position four months before the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, will stay in post until a replacement is found.

BP said senior independent director Ian Davies will spearhead the search for a new chairman, with Mr Svanberg taking charge of the annual general meeting in May next year.

In a stock market announcement, Mr Svanberg said: "It has been a tremendous privilege to lead the BP board over the past eight years.

"The first couple of years were incredibly challenging for us all as we navigated an unusually complex corporate crisis.

"Through that turbulent period we stayed focused on saving and restoring the company. Today I can say with confidence that BP is back and ready for the future.

"Our chief executive, Bob Dudley, is the one who, with his team, deserves credit and I am pleased that whoever is fortunate enough to succeed me as chairman will have the opportunity to work with him and his impressive management group."

Mr Svanberg joined the BP board in September 2009, before stepping up to chairman on January 1, 2010.

His appointment came shortly before the Deepwater Horizon disaster in April 2010, which is widely regarded as one of the biggest disasters in corporate history - killing 11 people and leading to a record US environmental fine of $18.7 billion (£14.2 billion).

With the lion's share of the mammoth costs behind the firm, BP announced in August that it had swung to a half-year profit of 1.6 billion US dollars (£1.2 billion), climbing back from a 2 billion US dollar (£1.5 billion) loss for the same six months in 2016.

However, company continues to grapple with a stubbornly low oil price, which has fallen from its peak of $100 a barrel in 2014 to around $57 a barrel.

Mr Dudley said: "BP's comeback would not have been possible without the strong leadership and steadfast support of Carl-Henric and the board.

"Together we were able to honour our commitments to the Gulf while rebuilding BP into a safer, stronger company.

"We devised a strategy to weather the downturn in the oil market while returning to growth.

"And we committed to playing a leading role in the energy transition while delivering oil and gas more efficiently. Carl-Henric's wise counsel and good humour will be sorely missed."

Shares in BP were up just shy of 1% in afternoon trading on the London Stock Exchange.