The chief executive of oil giant BP has resigned with immediate effect after admitting that he failed to fully detail his personal relationships with colleagues.

Bernard Looney, who has spent his entire career with BP, was not "fully transparent" when questioned last year about his conduct. BP's board of directors launched a review after receiving information from an anonymous source.

During that review, Mr Looney disclosed a "small number of historical relationships" with colleagues prior to becoming chief executive in 2020. No breach of BP's code of conduct was found, but the board was given assurances by Mr Looney regarding disclosure of past personal relationships and his future behaviour.

Last night, the company informed investors in a shock announcement that Mr Looney had failed to fully disclose all relevant details.

The Herald:

"Further allegations of a similar nature were received recently, and the company immediately began investigating with the support of external legal counsel," BP said. "That process is ongoing.

"Mr Looney has today informed the Company that he now accepts that he was not fully transparent in his previous disclosures. He did not provide details of all relationships and accepts he was obligated to make more complete disclosure."

BP's chief financial officer, Murray Auchincloss, will take over as chief executive on an interim basis. BP said no decisions have yet been made in respect of any remuneration payments to be made to Mr Looney, who came under fire last year after receiving nearly £10 million in salary and share awards as the company's profits ballooned amid the energy crisis.

His resignation comes at a tricky time for BP, which scaled back on its climate ambitions while at the same time announcing that profits in 2022 more than doubled to £23 billion.

Analysts said the departure of the chief executive midway through BP's transformation programme into a greener operation is not ideal.

“BP is now in a position where a permanent replacement needs to be found," said Sophie Lund-Yates of Hargreaves Lansdown . "A clear path forward needs to be forged sooner rather than later to limit negative sentiment.

"This of course all lands at a time when oil majors are already grappling to boost their ESG credentials, which adds weight to the problem. Looney has spearheaded an aggressive and green-thinking strategy during his tenure, and replacing him with someone that can convince the market they’re up for carrying the mantle and sprinting with it, isn’t going to be an overnight task."

She added that the recent oil price spike provides only limited support for BP’s share price, with longer-term forecasters far more concerned about how well-prepared BP is for the energy transition. 

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