BP’s US president David Lawler is leaving the British oil giant, becoming the second top executive to quit this month after Chief Executive Officer Bernard Looney abruptly resigned.
Lawler, who had been with BP (LON:BP) for nine years, “has notified us of his intent to pursue new career opportunities outside of BP,” according to a memo to employees confirmed by the company.
He will be replaced by US gas trading executive Orlando Alvarez as president of BP America Kyle Koontz, a vice president, will take over as CEO of BPX Energy, BP’s shale production division.
The high-profile departure comes only two weeks after Looney resigned, admitting to not fully disclosing relationships with colleagues. The reshuffling of leaders in the US, where BP has a bigger economic footprint than any other country, is a further sign of turmoil at a company recently forced to appoint an interim CEO and CFO, start a high-pressure search for a permanent CEO and handle questions over its board’s governance record.
In a memo Executive Vice President William Lin thanked Lawler. “During his tenure, BPX saw improvements in safety, emissions, production and financial performance, as well as the acquisition of BHP assets in 2018,” it said.
Denver native Lawler oversaw BP’s entry into the Permian Basin with the $10 billion purchase of shale oil assets from BHP Billiton in 2018. While the operations struggled with methane pollution and inadequate infrastructure for the first few years, they are now primed to be some of BP’s fastest-growing oil assets, with a targeted production increase of 30% by 2025.
Alvarez will continue as senior vice president of gas and power trading in the region in addition to his new role. Koontz previously was vice president of development at BPX and will report to Gordon Birrell, executive vice president of production and operations.
The shock resignation of Looney thrust the company into the spotlight over employees’ personal relationships amid a campaign by its board to convince investors and staff that they have control of the crisis.
Murray Auchincloss, previously chief financial officer, took over as interim chief executive officer and Kate Thomson was named interim chief financial officer, the first woman in that role.
“During periods of change, it is especially important that we stay focused on the three things Murray asked of us: safety, performance and the drive to 2025,” Lin said in the memo.