Helge Lund, the chairman of UK-based oil major BP, has said that for the first time in decades, an external candidate could replace former CEO Bernard Looney. Looney recently stood down after admitting to having failed to disclose personal relationships with colleagues at the company.
Speaking on a webcast to BP employees, Lund said that the search had begun for a new CEO, with both internal and external candidates being considered. For the past 30 years, BP, which makes the Castrol grease and lubricant range, has always appointed new CEOs from its existing executives. Murray Auchincloss, the chief financial officer, is occupying the CEO role on a temporary basis. Lund did not lay out a timeline for when a permanent replacement will be appointed.
Lund said that the fundamentals remained the same despite the change of CEO, with the focus remaining on strategy and safety alongside performance. He also said:
“The leadership team we have in BP is also unchanged. It’s a team with huge depth and experience, with a record of performance. And together we have the full support of the board to continue to deliver the plan we have laid out.”
The interim appointment of Auchincloss, who was himself appointed by Looney, for the top job suggests a degree of continuity. Both him and Lund are considerable potential inside candidates for the job, which the company will want to fill relatively quickly to mitigate the negative effects of Looney’s abrupt departure.