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    BP America Names New President

    After challenging tenure, Robert Malone retires as of Feb. 1, and will be succeeded by Lamar McKay.

    HOUSTON -- Robert Malone, chairman and president of BP America, is retiring after leading the oil giant's U.S. division through the cleanup of a string of serious incidents that nearly ruined the company's reputation, according to the Houston Chronicle and other published reports.

    Malone, a 34-year veteran of the oil and gas industry, is retiring Feb. 1. Lamar McKay, who served as executive vice president and chief operating officer for BP America until spending the last year working on a new governance model for BP's Russian venture, TNK-BP, will succeed Malone.

    Malone took the helm of BP America in June 2006, when the company was dealing with operational mishaps that dulled its competitive edge, as well as public and investor confidence in the London-based company, the newspaper report noted. Among the hurdles: the March 2005 explosion at BP's Texas City refinery that killed 15 people; two leaks from a critical Alaskan oil pipeline system; a propane trading scandal; and design flaws that delayed the startup of its Thunder Horse oil and gas platform, the biggest in the Gulf of Mexico.

    Weeks after taking the helm, Malone acknowledged to a congressional committee that the repeated problems had generated questions about BP's credentials and accusations that the company had profited at the expense of employee safety. He insisted he was committed to restoring confidence and operational integrity, and that he had been "given the authority, the resources and the people" to make it happen.

    However, three more deaths occurred at the Texas City plant while it was undergoing a $1 billion overhaul, one each year since the blast, according to the newspaper report.

    John Browne, the chief executive who led BP's transformation into a global oil and gas giant with significant U.S. operations, resigned in May 2007 upon the disclosure he had lied to a judge about how he met a former companion. Tony Hayward, then head of global exploration and production for BP, succeeded Browne and pledged to improve performance, remove unnecessary layers of management left over from BP's 1999 merger with Amoco and restore confidence, the Houston Chronicle reported.

    In October 2007, BP struck plea deals to resolve its criminal liability in cases involving the blast, trading and the pipeline leaks. The trading and pipeline issues were resolved quickly, but a Houston federal judge has yet to accept or reject the deal stemming from the blast after being challenged by explosion victims, according to the report.

    Hayward said in a statement that Malone "made an extraordinary difference during his tenure at BP America," and praised his "unflagging commitment to safe operations."

    McKay joined Amoco as a petroleum engineer in 1980 and led production businesses in the Arkoma Basin, the Gulf and the North Sea. After the BP-Amoco merger, he led BP's global exploration and production strategy. He also served as group vice president for Russia and Kazakhstan before joining BP America.

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