The former British Petroleum (BP) boss who resigned in the wake of the catastrophic 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill is the man behind the company set to acquire significant oil interests in Maltese waters.

The much-maligned Tony Hayward is now chief executive of Genel Energy Plc, which struck a deal this week to acquire 75 per cent of Mediterranean Oil and Gas Plc’s oil rights in Area Four Offshore Malta.

The deal is subject to approval by the Resources Ministry, which still has to complete due diligence on the London Stock Exchange-listed Genel Energy Plc.

Mr Hayward was pilloried by the US media and lawmakers at the time of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill for his public relations gaffes and BP’s perceived slowness in containing the oil spill, which flowed unabated for three months.

The spill started after an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20, 2010, which killed 11 people.

It was the largest accidental marine oil spill in the history of the oil industry and had a devastating impact on the environment.

Mr Hayward eventually resigned on July 27, 2010, insisting that BP’s response to the spill was “a model of what corporate social responsibility is all about”.

The section of Malta’s Area Four where drilling is set to take place could hold between 130 and 200 million barrels of oil, according to Mediterranean Oil and Gas Plc’s (MOG) own seismic tests.

Two exploration wells are planned, the first of which will be drilled to a minimum depth of 2,500 metres.

Earlier this month, MOG acquired Leni Gas and Oil Investments’ 10 per cent stake in the production sharing contract in Area Four for just $1.

This gave it a 100 per cent stake in the contract, which regulates how the resource will be distributed between the government and the company.

MOG then set about looking to farm-out part of the contract to reduce its exploration and production costs.

It will receive $10 million in cash from Genel for the farm-out deal, prompting Leni to announce yesterday that it will be seeking legal advice over the sale of its stake to MOG.

The Resources Ministry said yesterday it was aware MOG was in final stages of discussions with a “reputable” exploration and production company over a farm-out deal, but it was only informed the company was Genel a few minutes before the agreement was signed.

MOG and Genel have also signed an agreement to assess and acquire further assets in Malta, Libya and Tunisia.

This is Genel’s first foray into the region. It normally operates in Iraqi Kurdistan and also has assets in Somaliland and Ivory Coast.

Genel was formed last year when Mr Hayward and financier Nathaniel Rothschild’s investment vehicle bought Turkey’s Genel Enerji.

A Resources Ministry spokesman pointed out that challenges exist at all offshore drilling sites, but the area of Area Four where drilling will take place has much shallower waters than the area of the Gulf of Mexico where the Deepwater Horizon disaster took place.

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