BP’s head of exploration Richard Herbert is to quit the oil giant after slightly more than two years in the job – a period in which the company slashed spending exploration for new fields.
Herbert, a BP veteran and a long-time ally of chief executive Bob Dudley, re-joined BP in October 2013 after several years at rival Talisman Energy.
His task was to lead exploration activity to help the firm rebuild investor confidence following the Deepwater Horizon oil blow-out, in which 11 people died in 2010 and which nearly bankrupted the company.
But as oil prices began to crash two years ago and as BP had to shed assets to pay off some $50 billion in fines and compensation of the Gulf of Mexico disaster, the firm had to reduce funding for costly exploration projects.
BP said the departure followed a decision to simplify BP’s upstream executive team, headed by Bernard Looney, and bring exploration, global projects, reservoir developments and technology under one roof, reporting to James Dupree. Howard Leach, currently head of technical functions in exploration, has been appointed interim head of exploration.
Meanwhile Brent crude oil hit $49.47 per barrel – matching the six-month high on Monday, and last traded at $49.41, up 0.9% on the day.