BP Names Murray Auchincloss Permanent CEO

He Replaces Bernard Looney, Who Quit Over Personal Conduct
Murray Auchincloss
Auchincloss has been BP's CFO for three years. (Auchincloss by BP)

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LONDON — British oil giant BP said Jan. 17 its interim chief executive, Murray Auchincloss, will be given the job on a permanent basis to replace Bernard Looney, who quit after it emerged that he had failed to disclose to the board past relationships with company colleagues.

Auchincloss, a 53-year-old Canadian who was BP’s chief financial officer for more than three years, took on the top job in September after Looney’s surprise resignation. Auchincloss joined BP when it took over oil firm Amoco in 1998.

“Since September, BP’s board has undertaken a thorough and highly competitive process to identify BP’s next CEO, considering a number of high-caliber candidates in detail,” BP chairman Helge Lund said.

Lund said the board was in “complete agreement” that Auchincloss was the “outstanding candidate and is the right leader for BP.”

Auchincloss said he was honored to lead BP and that the company’s strategy to diversify away from oil to become an “integrated energy company” does not change.

Biraj Borkhataria, an analyst at RBC Capital Markets, called the appointment the best possible outcome for shareholders, as hiring someone from outside the company would have brought “further uncertainty on the direction of the business and potentially more noise around another strategy shift.”

However, Charlie Kronick, senior climate adviser at environmental group Greenpeace U.K., criticized the move as “business as usual for a company that is still failing to transition away from fossil fuels at anything like the pace required.”

Kronick said a change at the top was “an opportunity for a different approach that redirects significant spending towards the cheap, clean renewables we need to power us through the rest of the century.”

Looney, who had spent his working life at the firm, having started as a drilling engineer in 1991, quit after he acknowledged he had not been “fully transparent” in providing details of all relationships to the board.

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He was denied 32.4 million-pound ($41 million) worth of salary, pension, bonus payments and shares, after BP said he had committed “serious misconduct” by misleading the board.

BP does not ban relationships between staff, but its code of conduct says employees must consider conflicts of interest, for example in having an “intimate relationship with someone whose pay, advancement or management you can influence.”

BP has had four different bosses over the past 15 years. Prior to Looney’s appointment in 2020, Bob Dudley served nearly a decade as chief executive, stepping in to turn the business around after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.