DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — BP’s embattled chief executive, Tony Hayward, flew to Abu Dhabi and met with the emirate’s crown prince, Sheik Mohammed, amid speculation the oil giant is looking to raise cash as costs mount to contain the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
“He’s visiting partners as he does from time to time. He’s conducting normal business,’’ BP spokesman Andrew Gowers said.
Hayward has been criticized for his handling of the oil spill in the United States and in recent days has traveled to other countries where BP operates to reassure the company’s partners of its commitments.
The Saudi daily al-Eqtisadiah reported that a delegation of Saudi investors was headed to London to discuss an acquisition of up to 15 percent of BP. The newspaper did not say where it got the information, which could not be independently confirmed.
BP has a longstanding partnership with the state-owned Abu Dhabi National Oil Co.
Hayward’s visit comes as speculation swirls that BP might be looking for investment partners from the Middle East. Its costs to clean up the spill have shot past $3 billion, not counting a $20 billion fund for damages, the company created last month.
BP’s shares rose earlier in the week amid reports it was reaching out to Gulf funds in an attempt to raise cash to cover the cleanup and fend off possible takeover bids.