Chief Executive of BP Tony Hayward has startled critics by demanding the return of BP’s oil washed up in marshland and beaches across the American Gulf coast.

Speaking at a key shareholders meeting in London, Mr. Hayward showed images of sea birds coated in the foul-smelling brown emulsified slime being leached into the Atlantic, and demanded their delivery to a BP depot recently established in Tampa, Florida.

“The fact is, whether it’s stuck to the majestic cormorant or slathered on the wings of seagulls, that precious, precious oil belongs to BP, and we have a right to have it back.  Theft by finding is still theft in the USA, and our shareholders have a right to the return of our product.”

Mr Hayward went on to show images of relief workers pouring the gelatinous substance into barrels.

“This is disgraceful.  The federal authorities in the USA are quite simply encouraging people to steal our oil.  It’s ours.  I want my oil back.”

Mr Hayward’s presentation was followed by BP Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg, who gave an updated appraisal of the situation on the ground in the Gulf coastal region.

“All in all, things are looking up for the small people in America.  Your beaches, your beautiful seabirds and your wonderful, succulent shrimp are, thanks to the work of BP, now among the best lubricated on Earth.  Frankly, I don’t know what Your President’s banging on about.  But Tony’s right- we want our oil back, small people.”