* Svanberg took office in Jan 2010, 4 months before disaster
* He helped navigate BP through protracted downturn
* To remain in office until successor is found (Recasts, updates throughout)
LONDON, Oct 19 (Reuters) - BP's Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg who helped navigate the British company through the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, announced his intention to step down after nearly 8 years in the post.
BP rarely replaces both its chairman and chief executive in close succession, so the decision means current CEO Bob Dudley, who also took office in 2010, is likely to remain in his position for some time yet, according to company sources.
Svanberg will chair the annual general meeting to be held in May 2018 and will remain in his position until a successor is in post, the company said in a statement.
The 65-year old joined BP's board on Sept. 1, 2009 and became chairman on Jan. 1, 2010, four months before the worst offshore disaster in U.S. history that left 11 workers dead.
"Together we were able to honour our commitments to the Gulf while rebuilding BP into a safer, stronger company. We devised a strategy to weather the downturn in the oil market while returning to growth," CEO Dudley said in a statement.
Svanberg, from Sweden, played a key role in the aftermath of the disaster, when the company teetered on the brink of bankruptcy and which cost it over $60 billion in clean-up costs and penalties.
BP will continue paying for the Macondo spill into the next decade but the company has been able to regain its footing in recent years and increase production after selling more than $50 billion of assets.
"The first couple of years were incredibly challenging for us all as we navigated an unusually complex corporate crisis. Through that turbulent period we stayed focused on saving and restoring the company," Svanberg said in a statement.
"Today I can say with confidence that BP is back and ready for the future."
The board's senior independent director Ian Davis will lead the process to identify and appoint BP's next chairman, it added.
Svanberg remains the chairman of car maker Volvo. (Additional reporting by Justin George Varghese in Bengaluru; Editing by Mark Potter and Elaine Hardcastle)