BP posts record $17 billion loss, confirms Dudley as new chief

BP posts record $17 billion loss, confirms Dudley as new chief

Robert Dudley. Reuters pix

BP set aside $32.2 billion for costs related to the spill, including $20 billion for an escrow fund announced earlier. To help cover the costs, the company plans to sell assets worth $30 billion over the next 18 months. The sales would leave BP with a smaller exploration and production operation, it said.

Dudley, an American, is to become BP’s first non-British chief executive at the beginning of October, replacing Tony Hayward, who is stepping down after criticism of the way he handled the spill.

In a statement, Dudley said he did “not underestimate the nature of the task ahead, but the company is financially robust, with an enviable portfolio of assets and professional teams that are among the best in the industry. I believe this combination — allied to clear, strategic direction — will put BP on the road to recovery.”  Dudley, 54, grew up in Mississippi and has been in charge of BP’s response to the spill for the past month. His appointment was widely expected among analysts and investors, who are hoping that
he can help repair BP’s reputation in the United States, where it is most tarnished.

BP has about one-third of its business interests and 40 percent of its shareholders and employees in the United States.

Hayward infuriated US policy makers and local fishermen with the way he handled the spill, and many investors regarded his departure as necessary even if they did not blame him personally for the disaster at the Macondo well.  “The Gulf of Mexico explosion was a terrible tragedy for which — as the man in charge of BP when it happened — I will always feel a deep responsibility, regardless of where blame is ultimately found to lie,” Hayward said in a statement.

 “BP will be a changed company as a result of Macondo and it is right that it should embark on its next phase under new leadership.”  BP said it planned to nominate Hayward as a nonexecutive director of TNK-BP, its Russian venture.

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