BP names new leader for BP America

British oil giant BP announced Tuesday that John Mingé will become head of its operations in the United States.

Mingé, who has served as head of BP Alaska since 2009, will become chairman and president of BP America on Feb. 15.

The announcement came as the company was pleading guilty in a New Orleans courtroom to criminal charges related to the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Mingé, 51, will be based in Houston, succeeding Lamar McKay, who late last year was named to a new role, responsible for all of BP’s upstream businesses.

McKay praised Mingé’s experience in Alaska, where he has overseen the company’s oil and gas exploration, development and production activities, as well as its interests in the Trans-Alaska oil pipeline.

“His background prepares him well for the challenges of representing BP in the U.S., which is home to our largest and most diverse portfolio of businesses anywhere in the world,” McKay said in a statement.

He praised BP Alaska’s safety record under Mingé’s stewardship. The company said that in 2012, BP Alaska had the lowest recorded incident rate in its history, a 50 percent drop from 2009.

BP has 23,000 employees in the United States, involved in a wide range of operations, from oil and gas exploration and production to refining, pipeline operations and alternative energy.

Mingé has been with the company for nearly 30 years and has held a variety of executive and engineering posts, including serving as president of BP Indonesia, head of the Asia Pacific unit and president of exploration and production for Vietnam and China.

A federal judge Tuesday accepted BP’s guilty plea in connection with the deaths of 11 workers in 2010, ending the criminal phase of the investigation. A civil trial is set to begin next month.

The 2010 blowout of the Macondo well, which destroyed the Deepwater Horizon, killed 11 workers and led to the spill of almost 5 million barrels of crude oil into the Gulf, overshadowed much of McKay’s tenure, as he testified before Congress and appeared at news conferences along the Gulf Coast to explain BP’s efforts to cap the well and restore the environment.

BP also announced two other executive moves this week.

Janet Weiss has been named regional president of BP Alaska, replacing Mingé. She is currently subsurface vice president, responsible for resource progression and subsurface activities, as well as for information technology. She will continue to be based in Anchorage.

And Richard Morrison will become regional president for the Gulf of Mexico, based in Houston. Morrison is currently head of the global deepwater response team, formed to share lessons learned from the Deepwater Horizon accident and response with partners and governments around the world.

He will replace James Dupree, who is moving to a new leadership role in the global upstream organization.