Bernard Looney quit as BP CEO late yesterday (Tuesday) in a shock move that will raise questions over the energy transition plans of one of the world’s biggest oil & gas groups.

BP said Looney’s departure came after he accepted he was “not fully transparent” during earlier enquiries by the company about personal relationships with colleagues.

Murray Auchincloss, the company’s chief financial officer, will act as chief executive on an interim basis.

Looney in 2020 blazed a trail among oil & gas majors by declaring he wanted BP to become a net zero operation by 2050 or sooner. He set big renewable energy goals – the group’s 50GW net target by 2030 is among the highest of any fossil player – with offshore wind, hydrogen and the group’s solar joint venture Lightsource BP at the heart of the strategy.

BP has since made big progress, with auction wins in UK and most recently German offshore and the hiring of a number of top executives from the renewables sectors, notably gas and low carbon energy chief Anja-Isabel Dotzenrath from RWE and offshore wind head Matthias Bausenwein from Orsted.

However, Looney’s approach has come under intense scrutiny from some investors over the level of profits on offer, especially since the boom in hydrocarbons prices that followed Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Looney as recently as early September said BP would be “holding its nerve” on the energy transition – but now will not get to decide the future strategy, which will inevitably come into sharp focus.

The arrival of Wael Sawan as CEO of Shell early this year has seen that oil giant make a big pivot back towards its core hydrocarbons operations.

BP said of Looney’s departure that it has "strong values and the board expects everyone at the company to behave in accordance with those values", stressing that "all leaders in particular are expected to act as role models and to exercise good judgement in a way that earns the trust of others".