WASHINGTON -- British Petroleum announced Tuesday that its embattled British CEO Tony Hayward will be replaced by American Robert Dudley effective October 1.
BP officials have recommended the 53-year-old Hayward take a non-executive board position at one of the oil giant's joint ventures in Russia.
"The BP board is deeply saddened to lose a CEO whose success over some three years in driving the performance of the company was so widely and deservedly admired," BP Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg said in a statement released Tuesday.
The news comes after the gaffe-prone CEO was vilified for appearing out of touch in his handling of the response the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
"Nobody wants this over more than I do," Hayward infamously declared in May. "I want my life back."
When Dudley takes over in a few months, the Hattiesburg, Miss. native will become the first American to head the company.
"There's no question that we are going to learn a lot from this... and I'm sure there will be changes," Dudley told reporters.
So far, Gulf Coast residents like Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser seem willing to give him a chance.
"He did come down and stick his hand in the oil," Nungesser noted. "I saw compassion in his eyes. I saw a guy who cared. So I've got to give him the benefit of the doubt."
Meanwhile, for the first time in 18 years BP has found itself in the financial red. The oil giant lost $17 billion in the second quarter of this year, according to its quarterly report released Tuesday. The company's stock value has dropped 40 percent since the well explosion in April.
Hayward has said the company plans to pay for most of the costs associated with the spill by the end of the year. But as the lawsuits pile up, the company will likely soon find itself in the most drawn out and expensive legal battle in history.
BP crews had planned to permanently seal the damaged well in the next few weeks. However, since Tropical Storm Bonnie churned up the ocean last week, clean up crews are having a hard time finding any oil.
"Some of these patches are only sheen at this point. It becomes very weathered and sometimes is not skimmable," Retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen said.
Experts say the oil that did make it to the surface was broken up by warm water, eaten by microbes, and naturally dispersed by Bonnie's winds and waves. Officials, however, reported there's still a large amount of oil around the spill site.