BP CEO Bernard Looney abruptly resigns from oil giant

Oil giant BP was rocked by the sudden resignation of CEO Bernard Looney on Tuesday, as the executive acknowledged misleading the company about his personal relationships with colleagues.

“Mr. Looney has today informed the Company that he now accepts that he was not fully transparent in his previous disclosures,” said a statement BP posted on its website after the resignation. “He did not provide details of all relationships.” The nature of the “relationships” was not disclosed.

Looney, who spent his entire career at the company and had been at the helm for less than four years, was investigated by BP’s board in May 2022 for his “conduct in respect of personal relationships with company colleagues.” That investigation concluded that the relationships predated Looney’s elevation to CEO, and found no violations of BP’s code of conduct, according to the company. But additional allegations of undisclosed relationships surfaced more recently, Tuesday’s statement said, touching off another investigation.

The company said in its statement that Looney was not fully transparent and was “obligated to make more complete disclosure.”

The company’s chief financial officer, Murray Auchincloss, will act as interim CEO, the company said. The company’s stock closed down more than 1 percent after the news.

The shake-up comes as BP was already in a state of uneasy transition, having recently scaled back some of its ambitious goals for moving away from fossil fuels at a time when oil profits have soared.

BP dials back climate pledge amid soaring oil profits

The 53-year-old Looney became CEO in February 2020 with a plan to reshape the century-old company into a clean energy pioneer. He had set a goal for the company to reach net zero emissions by 2050, which included ambitious investments in renewable energy. But the British energy giant, with its green starburst logo and the slogan “Beyond Petroleum,” also curbed some of those ambitions under Looney’s tenure. In February, the company announced that it was substantially lowering its targets for cutting oil production, as it reported making more money than ever in 2022.

The company made $27.7 billion last year, more than doubling its 2021 profits. It was among the oil industry windfalls that drew rebuke all the way up to the Oval Office.

The profits were largely the result of tight global supplies created by sanctions on Russia that followed its invasion of Ukraine. They were made in a year when drivers felt significant pain at the pump, paying an average of more than $5 per gallon at one point last year.

Looney’s pay also doubled during that blockbuster year for the oil company, with him earning $12 million. The company said Tuesday that “no decisions have yet been made in respect of any remuneration payments to be made to Mr. Looney” as he exits the firm.

BP’s profits have since fallen back to earth. Its earnings last quarter were 70 percent below where they were for the same period in 2022.

Looney spent his entire career at BP, joining the company as an engineer in 1991, and holding positions in North America, Asia and Europe.

Auchincloss, who is taking over as interim CEO, had been BP’s chief financial officer since summer 2020.


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