It has been a tough couple of months for Tony Hayward. As the CEO of BP, the company responsible for the largest oil spill in US history, Hayward has been accused of everything from incompetence to lack of integrity.
Life is set to get a little bit tougher for the 52-year-old Ph.D. geologist this week.
On Wednesday, he is expected to meet with President Obama for the first time since the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded almost two months ago.
The meeting is likely to be tense, given that Obama and lawmakers in Washington have made it clear they want BP to pay for the disaster. Last week, Obama told NBC News that Hayward would not be working for him after some of comments the CEO made, and and that he was trying to figure out "whose ass to kick."
The Coast Guard, meanwhile, sent a letter Friday to the energy company demanding that it speed up its spill containment efforts and present a plan for doing so by today. In response to the letter, BP said it would be able to capture 53,000 barrels of oil per day by the end of June and 80,000 barrel by mid-July, according to Bloomberg News. Current containment efforts are capturing 15,000 barrels a day.
Despite government officials' pointed criticism of BP, the President on Saturday reportedly sought to ease concerns that the U.S. is also blaming Britain for the disaster. He reportedly told British Prime Minister David Cameron in a phone call that "that our frustration has nothing to do with national identity" but instead revolves around "ensuring that a large, wealthy company lives up to its obligations,"according to the Associated Press.
Over the weekend, the Obama administration indicated that it wants BP to set up an escrow account to pay damage claims related to the spill.
"The President will make clear that he expects, and that if necessary will exercise his full legal authority to ensure, that BP sets aside the funds required to pay individuals and businesses damaged by this massive spill. And that those funds will be paid out under fair, efficient, and transparent procedures administered by an independent third-party panel established just for this purpose," a senior administration official told ABC News.
BP says Hayward also will discuss the possibility of suspending the company's dividend payment to shareholders with the President, but the firm says there will be no decision until later this summer.
On Thursday, Hayward is scheduled to testify before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.
"It's going to be a grilling," says Fadel Gheit, head of oil and gas research at investment bank Oppenheimer & Co. He says lawmakers seem bent on publicly punishing Hayward, whether the exercise is productive or not. "Most of the politicians are playing this game because of the midterm elections, they want to get their day in the sun."
The meetings come as U.S. relations with the U.K. grow cool. British commentators have argued that Americans have come down especially hard on BP because it's a foreign company, and that the public outcry would have been more muted if an American company had caused the spill.
"The perception here is that the (U.S.) administration and 9 out of 10 commentators are distorting things by talking about 'British Petroleum,'" says one London-based oil expert who wanted to remain anonymous. BP stopped using the full name years ago after its merger with Amoco, an American company.