Sep 30, 2019

Reports: BP CEO prepared to head for the exit

Ben Geman, author of Generate

BP CEO Bob Dudley. Photo: Michael Kovac/Getty Images

BP CEO Bob Dudley is preparing to leave the oil-and-gas giant within roughly a year, which would end a decade-long run at the helm, according to Sky News and Reuters.

Why it matters: The plan, if true, is part of a wider changing of the guard at some of the world's largest oil companies.

  • Exxon CEO Darren Woods took over for Rex Tillerson in 2017 after Tillerson left for what would be a short tenure as secretary of state.
  • Mike Wirth became CEO of Chevron in 2018, replacing John Watson.

Where it stands: Sky News reported Saturday that Dudley is preparing to leave "within about 12 months," while Reuters noted Monday that he's "drawing up plans" to step down next year.

  • BP did not confirm that the 64-year-old Dudley is preparing to step down. A spokesman tells Axios that "we don't comment on speculation."

The big picture: Dudley became CEO months after the fatal 2010 Gulf of Mexico blowout and massive spill of over 3 million barrels that wreaked havoc on BP's finances and reputation.

  • A big part of his tenure has focused on steering the company through the years of aftermath, including sale of tens of billions of dollars of assets.
  • BP has paid over $65 billion in costs for cleanup, settlements, penalties, restoration efforts and more.

Dudley has also overseen repositioning of the company in other ways. They include...

  • Recently boosting its position in U.S. shale with the $10.5 billion purchase of BHP's assets in 2018, and August's announcement that BP is exiting Alaska after a decades-long run as a huge player in the state.
  • Expanding BP's moves to diversify into other energy sources, although oil-and-gas are still the overwhelming majority of its business. Examples include BP's purchase last year of U.K. electric vehicle charging network Chargemaster and investment in the fast-charging startup StoreDot.
  • BP has also revived its solar efforts with purchase of a 43% stake in the solar developer Lightsource (now called Lightsource BP) rolled out in late 2017.

Where it stands: "Mr. Dudley is under no pressure to step down, meaning a lengthy handover to his successor is possible and could take place after he has turned 65," Sky reports.

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