BP said Friday that Bernard Looney, head of the company's oil-and-gas exploration and production unit, will take over as CEO in early February.

Why it matters: It adds clarity to the oil giant's succession plans after word emerged recently that current CEO Bob Dudley, 64, is readying to step down after a decade in the role.

Where it stands: The 49-year-old Looney joined BP as an engineer in 1991 and moved through several roles, becoming head of the upstream division in 2016.

  • Per Reuters, "The Irishman's energetic management style was quickly felt as he spearheaded BP's drive to improve performance through cost cutting and digitalization."
  • He's been the upstream chief at an active time that included the $10.5 billion acquisition of BHP's U.S. shale assets and BP's recently announced sale of its Alaska operations.

The big picture: As I noted in this piece about Dudley's career, it's part of a wider changing of the guard at some of the world's largest oil companies.

  • ExxonMobil 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.

One big question: How Looney will address growing pressure on oil-and-gas giants to take more aggressive steps on climate change.

  • Under Dudley, BP has set emissions-cutting targets for its operations and boosted investments in renewables, electric vehicle charging and other climate-friendly tech.
  • However, alternative energy remains a small share of its business. And BP has rejected activists' calls to set targets for emissions-cutting from use of its fuels in the economy (known as "scope 3" emissions).

What they're saying: BP Chairman Helge Lund, in a statement praising Dudley's tenure, said of Looney: "As the company charts its course through the energy transition this is a logical time for a change."

Go deeper: BP agrees to activists' calls for wider climate disclosure

Go deeper

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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

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Meadows confirms Trump's tweets "declassifying" Russia documents were false

Photo: Tom Williams-Pool/Getty Images

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows confirmed in court on Tuesday that President Trump's tweets authorizing the disclosure of documents related to the Russia investigation and Hillary Clinton's emails "were not self-executing declassification orders," after a federal judge demanded that Trump be asked about his intentions.

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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

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