BP is approaching a pivotal date in its history on July 27. Three months ago, the group’s second-quarter results would have been expected to be unremarkable; another staging post in the group’s steady improvement in its financial and operational performance under Tony Hayward as chief executive. After the company’s massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, Mr Hayward will now have to demonstrate that BP can survive. Industry experts still generally believe a bid for BP is unlikely, although not impossible. Vincent Boland examines what may be a critical week for the oil giant.