BP has had to deny that a series of stinging criticisms of the company’s management, culture and cost-cutting by a senior executive were an attack on Lord Browne.

Tony Hayward, chief executive for exploration and production worldwide, has whipped up an internal storm after giving a brutally candid view of the company’s failings before thousands of employees.

Mr Hayward said that the “frontline operations teams” had “lived too long in the world of making do and patching up this quarter for the next quarter … rather than thinking about how we are going to maintain a piece of equipment for the next 30 or 40 years.” Given BP’s recent failings in Alaska and at the Texas refinery, these are very candid criticisms.

He said: “We have a leadership style that probably is too directive and doesn’t listen sufficiently well. The top of the organisation doesn’t listen hard enough to what the bottom of the organisation is saying”.

“We have a management style that has made a virtue out of doing more for less. The mantra of more-for-less says that we can get 100 per cent of the task completed with 90 per cent of the resources, which in some senses is OK and might work, but it needs to be deployed with great judgement and wisdom. When it isn’t you run into trouble.”

A BP spokesman insisted that his views should not be seen as an attack on Lord Browne. Excuse me, but who else runs BP?