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BP Division Chief to Leave TNK-BP's Board

From top, Dudley, Vekselberg and TNK-BP shareholder Mikhail Fridman. Igor Tabakov

BP said Saturday that its head of exploration and production, the unit responsible for the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, was to step down from the board of TNK-BP.

A BP spokesman said Andy Inglis was stepping down to make way for outgoing BP chief executive Tony Hayward, who was nominated to the TNK-BP board as part of an exit package agreed upon in the wake of the United States' worst oil spill.

Some BP insiders have said Inglis might be forced out of his position atop BP's core production unit following the blown-out well disaster, which has prompted U.S. lawmakers to accuse BP of fundamental shortcomings on safety in its drilling operations.

But spokesman Andrew Gowers said Inglis retained the full support of BP's board.

"The decision to nominate Tony to the TNK-BP board required another director to make way, and Andy has had quite a few things on his plate recently," Gowers said.

TNK-BP pumps about 2 million barrels per day and is Russia's third-largest oil producer. BP holds four seats on the board, the same as the Russian shareholders, and three are occupied by independent directors.

BP has promised to take a "hard look" at itself following the oil spill, and employees expect some big changes beyond the departure of Hayward, who angered the U.S. public with a series of gaffes following the accident.

American Bob Dudley, who is currently heading the spill response effort, will replace Hayward on Oct. 1.

Hayward is expected to participate at the October board meeting, BP spokesman Vladimir Buyanov said by telephone, citing Jeremy Huck, the London-based company’s Russia head.

In addition to questioning the future of Inglis, some staffers have said Doug Suttles, chief operating officer of BP's exploration and production unit, could also be in the line of fire.

Gowers said Suttles also retained the support of the BP board.

(Reuters, Bloomberg)

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