x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Hayward on globetrotting quest to solve BP's woes

The embattled oil chief has found some success, but as long as the leak continues, there are miles to go before he can rest.

Tony Hayward is starting to resemble the Flying Dutchman, the mythical figure destined to travel the globe forever. At least he can console himself that he is flying in a private jet. On Tuesday he was in Azerbaijan, meeting the president Ilham Aliyev. By Wednesday he was seen in Abu Dhabi. Although Mr Hayward managed to dodge most of the waiting press pack, a few reporters caught up with him as he left the airport.

His office confirmed he had met Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, as well as others in the capital, while he added the meetings were "very good". One of Mr Hayward's tasks is to convince everybody that BP is not only a viable investment, but a solid company that could continue to service its obligations. Yesterday he was understood to be in Angola. According to a BP spokesman, he also has plans to visit Egypt "in the near future".

Unlike the Flying Dutchman, Mr Hayward can be sure his travels have a purpose. Since The National broke the news on Sunday that BP was seeking strategic investors in the Middle East, the company's share price has risen by 14 per cent for a gain of US$13 billion (Dh47.74bn) in market capitalisation, back above the psychologically significant $100bn mark to nearly $104bn. Even if a deal with a sovereign wealth fund is not forthcoming, at least Mr Hayward has succeeded in stopping the share price from haemorrhaging.

For his next trick he needs to stem the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico that sparked the decline in his, and his company's, fortunes. If he manages to prevent the loss of 60,000 barrels a day, causing untold environmental damage, his non-stop voyaging days might be over. @Email:rwright@thenational.ae