THE former chief executive of BP who stepped down after last year’s Deepwater Horizon rig disaster in the Gulf of Mexico was in Aberdeen last night.
Tony Hayward was speaking at the annual dinner of the Aberdeen, Highlands and islands branch of the Energy Institute.
More than 400 people attended the sellout event at the Marcliffe Hotel, where the other speaker was First Minister Alex Salmond.
Mr Hayward has kept a low media profile since his exit from BP and declined to give any interviews on his trip to Aberdeen.
His speech last night was about the energy industry, but there was no mention about the US gulf oilspill incident.
Denis Pinto, chairman of the Energy Institute branch, said the choice of Mr Hayward as a speaker had attracted more attention to the dinner than normal, adding: “I would say we had more interest than usual from people wanting to attend.”
Mr Hayward, who gained a PhD at Edinburgh University, joined BP in 1982, starting as a rig geologist in Aberdeen.
He rose quickly through the ranks in a series of technical and commercial roles in BP Exploration in the north-east, London, Glasgow, France and China, becoming chief executive in 2007.
Since leaving BP, Mr Hayward has set up energy advisory business 3E Capital.
It was claimed recently that he was also in talks to launch an international oil company. According to one report, Mr Hayward had been approached by Abu Dhabi’s sovereign wealth fund which offered to bankroll him to the tune of several billion dollars to enable him to build a global oil and gas group.
The proposal was understood to be at an early stage of development and was one of several being considered by Mr Hayward, who is planning to build a portfolio of roles in global businesses.
He was forced to step down from BP following outrage about the oil spill. Mr Hayward claimed he had been “demonised and vilified”.
The explosion on the US rig on April 20 killed 11 people and dumped millions of gallons of oil into the gulf.
The incident also had a disastrous effect on BP’s fortunes, with the company reporting a loss for the first time in 18 years and its shares slumped.