American takes over as BP's disaster trouble-shooter

BP CHIEF executive Tony Hayward has handed over tackling the Gulf of Mexico oil spill to an American executive brought up in one of the states affected by the disaster.

Bob Dudley, from Mississippi, is now the front-man in the efforts to stop the leak and deal with the economic damage it has caused. Mr Dudley, who had led BP's operations in the Americas and Asia, was appointed president and chief executive of the newly created Gulf Coast Restoration Organisation, effective immediately, and will report to Mr Hayward.

"In the near term, my focus will be on listening to stakeholders, so we can address concerns and remove obstacles that get in the way of our effectiveness," he said.

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"We'll build an organisation that over the longer term fulfils BP's commitments to restore the livelihoods and the environment of the Gulf Coast."

The reorganisation followed a series of humiliations in recent days for BP. Last week, it bowed to president Barack Obama's demand that it set up a $20 billion (13.5bn) fund to cover damages and to suspend dividend payments, followed a day later by a public thrashing for Mr Hayward before a Congressional committee in Washington.

Mr Hayward repeatedly apologised and expressed sorrow for the oil leak caused by a fire and explosion on the Deepwater Horizon rig on 20 April.