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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

Collins helps contractor before pro-Susan PAC gets donation

Sen. Susan Collins during her reelection campaign. Photo: Scott Eisen/Getty Images

A PAC backing Sen. Susan Collins in her high-stakes reelection campaign received $150,000 from an entity linked to the wife of a defense contractor whose firm Collins helped land a federal contract, new public records show.

Why it matters: The executive, Martin Kao of Honolulu, leaned heavily on his political connections to boost his business, federal prosecutors say in an ongoing criminal case against him. The donation linked to Kao was veiled until last week.

How cutting GOP corporate cash could backfire

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Companies pulling back on political donations, particularly to members of Congress who voted against certifying President Biden's election win, could inadvertently push Republicans to embrace their party's rightward fringe.

Why it matters: Scores of corporate PACs have paused, scaled back or entirely abandoned their political giving programs. While designed to distance those companies from events that coincided with this month's deadly siege on the U.S. Capitol, research suggests the moves could actually empower the far-right.

6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Kaine, Collins pitch Senate colleagues on censuring Trump

Sen. Tim Kaine speaks with Sen. Susan Collins. Photo: Andrew Harnik/AP via Getty Images

Sens. Tim Kaine and Susan Collins are privately pitching their colleagues on a bipartisan resolution censuring former President Trump, three sources familiar with the discussions tell Axios.

Why it matters: Senators are looking for a way to condemn Trump on the record as it becomes increasingly unlikely Democrats will obtain the 17 Republican votes needed to gain a conviction in his second impeachment.