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The Times: Comment: Pressure mounts

Steve Hawkes

Lord Browne’s bullish sign off at BP will be met with puzzled looks in the US. His fierce defence of the oil giant’s record, and of its bright prospects, follows a year marked by the dramatic fallout from oil spills in Alaska and the fatal refinery blast at Texas City.

Browne insists that the group has learned its lessons and come through with its core values “reaffirmed”. He says: “The best is yet to come.” The City will now want proof of this pudding. BP’s share price has tumbled 20 per cent in the past year even though it has recorded its best-ever profits.

BP has a far brighter pipeline of production than Shell, including the much delayed Thunder Horse platform in the Gulf of Mexico. But Tony Hayward, the new chief executive, will have his work cut out to ensure that Browne’s confidence is not misplaced.

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