BP is to appoint an independent panel to review the safety management systems and corporate safety culture of BP Products North America, following a fatal accident in Texas and pressure from US authorities.

Responding to a recommendation made by the US Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB), which is investigating the March 23 explosion at the company’s Texas City refinery, BP Group chief executive John Browne said a safety panel would be convened and headed by an external chairperson and would include outside safety experts.

The CSB has been critical of BP regarding the Texas accident which killed 15 people. The US regulator has accused BP of systemic lapses, adding that the London, UK-headquartered oil producer had started an isomerisation unit despite knowing security features were not working. Furthermore, according to the Financial Times, BP has experienced three further accidents since the fatal Texas refinery incident.

Mr Browne said: The Texas City explosion was the worst tragedy in the recent history of BP, and we will do everything possible to ensure nothing like it happens again. Today’s recommendation from the CSB is a welcome development and we take it seriously.

We will move speedily to appoint an independent panel and offer it every help to do its job. When it reports, we will act with equal speed to deal with its recommendations.

The safety review will be give 30 days to report. Mr Browne said the panel’s findings would be made public.