BP's Next CEO Warns Against Push To Limit Drilling

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Bob Dudley i

Bob Dudley, who will take over from BP CEO Tony Hayward on Oct. 1, says the company has a long-term commitment to the Gulf of Mexico region. Cheryl Garber/AP hide caption

toggle caption Cheryl Garber/AP
Bob Dudley

Bob Dudley, who will take over from BP CEO Tony Hayward on Oct. 1, says the company has a long-term commitment to the Gulf of Mexico region.

Cheryl Garber/AP

BP's next CEO said the energy giant will put safety at the center of future exploration, but cautioned that any legislative action to prevent it from operating in the Gulf of Mexico could have "unintended consequences."

"We will reorganize and restructure our businesses to put a much higher set of checks and balances of functional expertise on safety across the business," Bob Dudley told NPR's Renee Montagne.

BP announced Tuesday that Dudley will replace CEO Tony Hayward on Oct. 1, becoming the British company's first American chief executive. Hayward was widely criticized for his handling of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill caused by a deadly explosion on the Deepwater Horizon rig April 20.

The company's actions during the disaster and its safety record prior to the rig blast have come under fire. Dudley said his immediate job is to oversee the cleanup operations.

"Our success and our ability to do business in the United States, I think, depends on our corporate response and follow-through on this," he said. "And we have some very large commitments that we intend to keep in America."

Dudley said the goal is to cap the well and kill it, after which the company intends to skim any remaining oil on the surface and focus its effort on cleaning up Gulf Coast beaches. He said he is hopeful that the well could be killed by next Monday or Tuesday.

"I do believe we're seeing the end of the oil flowing into the gulf," Dudley said.

He also emphasized a long-term corporate commitment to the region, saying BP will stay in the gulf for years to come.

"There are people along the Gulf Coast that think that because we capped the well, then we're going to pack up and leave — that's not the case," he said. "We'll be there for years. We'll have offices across the Gulf Coast."

Dudley acknowledged that safety measures that Hayward introduced three years ago upon assuming the post of CEO were not implemented fast enough. He vowed to ensure that they become a key part of BP.

"There's no question with this accident we have to up the trajectory on this dramatically," he said. "And that's what we will be doing."

But BP's safety record might hinder future exploration. Legislation before Congress would prevent companies with poor safety records from getting new licenses for exploration for oil and gas in the Gulf of Mexico.

Dudley said such actions would have a negative effect.

"I think there should be a thoughtful approach to this," he said. "A simple banning of one of America's largest employers there in the Gulf may have some unintended consequences."

BP expects to pay what could be the largest fine in corporate history for the disaster, Dudley said, and had made provisions in its second-quarter numbers, which were announced Tuesday. The company announced a loss of $17 billion in its second quarter and set aside more than $32 billion to pay for all of the expected costs related to the spill.



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