BP to emerge slimmer after Gulf disaster

New CEO's advantage: "He speaks with an American accent."

July 27, 2010 21:06
1 minute read.
Crew members of the Joe Griffin look at the oil sl

oil spill recovery 311. (photo credit: AP)

New BP CEO Bob Dudley told reporters Tuesday that he understood the complexity of rebuilding BP's image and financial strength, and that the British oil giant would emerge as a stronger, slimmer company in the wake of the Gulf oil disaster.

Dudley is the first American to lead the British company in its century-long history. One analyst from Raymond James suggested that BP appointed an American to help to boost the company's relationships and image in the US.

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"The two aspects of Dudley's work that make him an optimal candidate for CEO are that he's not Tony Hayward and he speaks with an American accent," said the analyst.

BP is the largest producer of oil and gas in the United States, home to 40 percent of the company's assets and one-third of its worldwide oil and gas reserves. It has huge interests in Alaska and the Gulf, with vast tracts yet to be developed.

Those resources could be threatened. The U.S. Congress is considering a proposal to block the awarding of any new offshore oil and gas leases to companies with bad safety records. BP would be targeted, the way the legislation is written. BP might also lose its fuel contracts with the military, worth $2.2 billion last year.

If BP is going to survive , it must protect those assets, says Amy Myers Jaffe, an oil industry scholar at Rice University in Houston.

Dudley has adamantly defended BP's actions since the explosion. The company has pledged $20 billion to a cleanup and damages account, but said Tuesday that it has set aside $32.2 billion to cover the costs of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Dudley also said he was sorry for former CEO Hayward and admired what he had done.

"I did not seek out this job," he added. "I was asked to step into these shoes."

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