NEW ORLEANS — BP's Tony Hayward, whose gaffes added insult to oil-spill injury for the Gulf Coast, is on his way out as CEO, a U.S. government official said Sunday. Many residents found small comfort in that as BP's biggest mistake under Hayward continued to foul their waters, their beaches and their way of life.

NEW ORLEANS — BP's Tony Hayward, whose gaffes added insult to oil-spill injury for the Gulf Coast, is on his way out as CEO, a U.S. government official said Sunday. Many residents found small comfort in that as BP's biggest mistake under Hayward continued to foul their waters, their beaches and their way of life.

A change in leadership will not change the mammoth tasks ahead of BP, from stopping the offshore oil gusher for good, to cleaning up the millions of gallons that already have leaked, to paying billions in claims — all while defending its stock price and repairing its battered reputation.

The senior U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because an announcement had not been made, was briefed on the decision by a senior BP official late last week.

The government official did not know who will replace Hayward or when it will happen.

One of the most likely successors is BP Managing Director Bob Dudley, who is currently overseeing the British company's spill response and would be BP's first American CEO if he is chosen. It is unclear if he would be juggling leadership of BP with oil-spill duties — just as Hayward once did — or whether he would delegate that duty to someone else.

Earlier Sunday, BP PLC spokesman Toby Odone seemed to downplay reports about Hayward's departure, saying he "remains BP's chief executive, and he has the confidence of the board and senior management."

BP's board would have to approve a change in company leadership. An official announcement could come as early as today.

It's been more than three months since an offshore drilling rig operated by BP exploded off Louisiana on April 20, killing 11 workers and setting off the spill. A temporary plug has stopped oil from gushing for more than a week now, but before that the busted well had spewed anywhere from 94 million to 184 million gallons into the Gulf.

Tropical Storm Bonnie forced ships fighting the spill to pull out, but crews returned quickly Sunday as the storm broke apart so they could resume work on a relief well, a permanent fix for the gusher.

Hayward, 53, was BP's most visible figure for weeks after the oil spill, but faded from the Gulf scene after several tone-deaf comments made people even angrier at the company than they had been. Possibly the most damaging comment came in late May, when Hayward told reporters, "I want my life back," as Gulf residents struggled with the effects of the spill.