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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

BP Chief Tackles Oil And Image Problems

NEW YORK -- Tony Hayward's honeymoon is likely to be quite brief.

Hayward, the newly named chief executive of BP, had been settling in for a smooth transition, traveling around the world to meet with employees and government officials as he prepared to take over the top spot at the London-based oil company in August.

But he was hastily moved into the top job Tuesday after John Browne quit amid revelations about his personal life that had prompted him to lie to a court.

So Hayward now faces the critical task of fixing a company with a broken image and damaged morale on top of dealing with the problems he already knew were there.

At the top of that list were investigations in the United States over BP's safety record and conducting negotiations with foreign governments, from Russia to the Middle East, to ensure that BP can get access to sorely needed resources.

There is little doubt that these are hard times at BP. The company has suffered a series of accidents in recent years. Investigators have blamed lax controls and a culture that favored cost-cutting over safety.

Russia is likely to be one of Hayward's most difficult riddles to solve. Thanks to a successful joint venture set up there by Browne, Russia is a crucial component of BP's strategy and accounts for about one-quarter of its hydrocarbon production. BP pumps 930,000 barrels per day of oil and gas from Russia, out of a total daily production of about 3.9 million barrels.

BP has said it wants to hold on to its stake in its joint venture in Russia, TNK-BP. But analysts suggest it may be forced to take on a minority position if the Russian government buys out its local partners, a possible outcome given the Kremlin's de facto policy of increasing the state's control over the energy sector.

None of this is likely to come as a surprise to Hayward, who has served on the board of TNK-BP since that company's creation in 2003.

On two visits to Russia in March, Browne introduced Hayward to President Vladimir Putin and heavyweights in the Russian oil and gas business.

That trip was part of a worldwide tour that Hayward started with Browne that took him to Germany, China, Russia and Japan. Now, he will have to complete that tour on his own. Last week, he met with all the company's managing directors in a hotel outside of London.