The move frees up BP Chief Executive Bob Dudley, who has been acting as head of upstream since the company’s major reorganization of the segment into three divisions–exploration, development and production–in 2010.
The 2010 shakeup came in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico that resulted in 11 deaths and unleashed the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history. It was designed to improve risk management and implementation of global standards.
The appointment of Mr. McKay comes as BP faces a costly battle with the U.S. government over civil penalties for the pollution unleashed when the drilling rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico. The U.S. government is pursing civil claims that would result in up to $20 billion in fines.
Last week, BP agreed to accept criminal responsibility for the disaster and to pay $4.5 billion in fines and restitution.
BP is also working on completing a $26.8 billion transaction with OAO Rosneft, which is planned for the first half of next year. BP Thursday finalized the terms for the deal after it received Russian government approval for its purchase of a stake in the Russian state-controlled company.
The three divisions will now report to Mr. McKay, 53, who will report to Mr. Dudley. The current structure and management teams will remain unaffected by McKay’s appointment, BP said in a statement.
“During the past two years, we have successfully introduced a more centralized organization to our upstream; BP’s largest organizational change for two decades. I believe it is now timely and appropriate to appoint a fully dedicated chief executive to this, our largest business,” Mr. Dudley said.
McKay, who has a background in petroleum engineering, has served in a variety of operational and commercial roles globally during his 32 years with BP. He has overseen BP’s Gulf Coast restoration work in his current role as chairman and president of BP America, which he has held since 2009.
McKay’s successor as chairman and president of BP America will be announced at a later date.
– Selina Williams, (c) 2012 Dow Jones & Company