BG’s Peter Henshaw takes the communications hot seat at BP

Timing is (also) all in the wacky world of corporate communications (see Morrisons story) and BG’s head of government affairs Peter Henshaw may demonstrate just that as he moves into the BP communications hot seat formerly occupied by unfortunate former Financial Times editor Andrew Gowers.

Gowers, you may recall left the relatively calm pastures of the FT to become comms head at Lehman Brothers shortly before the bank collapsed, triggering the credit crunch, and then took up the reins at BP immediately before its Gulf of Mexico Deepwater Horizon oil well blew a very expensive gasket.

BG is what remains of the old exploration side of British Gas after it spun off its energy supply business as Centrica. As such it has prospered mightily (and quietly) unlike its bigger rival BP.

Prior to joining BP Henshaw worked at BP, which should come in handy, including at its fraught Russian joint venture TNK-BP where relations between the British oil company and its Russian oligarch ‘partners’ became so bad at one stage that TNK-BP’s boss Bob Dudley, now CEO of BP in place of Tony Hayward, had to flee the country.

Presumably Dudley sees Henshaw as a battle-hardened safe pair of hands although he’s hardly the high profile appointment many people were expecting. He must be one of the few senior executives anywhere (let alone in a top communications job) without a picture anywhere on the internet. No mean feat really.

With a good sense of timing it would seem (unlike Gowers). BP’s share price has recovered strongly following the Deepwater disaster as it has found it surprisingly easy to raise the £20bn it may have to fork out in damages over the oil spill.

And Dudley has promised that it will clean up its safety act to prevent further bad accidents, although predecessor Hayward said exactly the same thing.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.