BP (LON: BP) has reportedly chosen executive search firm Egon Zehnder International to help the oil giant find a new chief executive officer.
Sky News is reporting Egon Zehnder will help the firm identify a replacement for former chief Bernard Looney after his resignation over ‘personal relationships’ with colleagues in September.
The search is expected to include interim chief executive Murray Auchincloss, the former BP finance chief, as well as external candidates.
Mr Auchincloss has reportedly won the backing of many shareholders to take the position on permanently, according to Sky News.
BP candidates for CEO
The interim CEO is among several potential candidates who could take the helm at the 114-year-old energy giant.
Internal candidates previously tipped to be in the running include Norwegian BP chairman Helge Lund, executive vice president William Lin and the leader of the company’s gas and low-carbon business Anja-Isabel Dotzenrath.
The oil and gas producer has typically shaped its CEOs over decades-long careers within the company.
BP hasn’t chosen an external candidate chif for the top job in recent years.
However, after Looney became the third of the last four chiefs to leave BP abruptly analysts say an external hire can’t be ruled out.
Bernard Looney tenure as BP CEO
The Irishman ran BP’s upstream business since April 2016 until taking up the CEO job in 2020. He has been at BP since 1991 when he joined as a drilling engineer in the North Sea.
As CEO Bernard Looney oversaw an effort to transform the oil giant into a post fossil fuels powerhouse, but later pulled back on some of the more ambitious targets and revived spending on crude and natural gas.
In April 2020, Looney said oil and gas would be a “smaller, but core part” of the London-listed supermajor as it “pivots” to net zero.
As part of that plan, he pledged to cut oil and gas production by 40% over the following decade.
However, following the invasion of Ukraine and the subsequent energy supply crunch, BP said in February of this year it would instead cut oil and gas production by only 25% by 2030 and hand more cash back to shareholders.
Bernard Looney’s tenure also included the lows of the pandemic, when results staggered for the energy majors and BP cut 10,000 jobs, which it announced in 2020.
He then saw the highs and record-breaking results of more recent years, which contributed to the addition of the windfall tax on UK North Sea producers, and similar measures in Europe.
An Irish citizen, Mr Looney grew up in County Kerry and in 1991 gained a degree in Electrical Engineering from University College Dublin. He later, in 2005, gained a MS in Management from Stanford Graduate School of Business.
He is a fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, a fellow of the Energy Institute and is also a mentor in the FTSE 100 Cross-Company Mentoring Executive Programme.