|Bob Dudley was once in the running for the firm’s top job.|
LONDON — BP’s new strategy to clean up its image and the Gulf Coast is to hand the job from its British chief executive, widely criticized for tone-deaf comments and yachting amid the crisis, to one of its top-ranking Americans.
Bob Dudley is no stranger to tough situations, having protected his company’s interests in Russia even after he was barred from the country. Perhaps most important, he is a fresh face for the oil giant as it tries to mop up the spill.
Dudley will take over as BP’s point man on the spill response, reporting to Tony Hayward. Company officials have variously put the time frame at anywhere from immediately until after the spill is plugged.
Dudley, BP’s managing director, spent two decades climbing the ranks at Amoco Corp., which merged with BP, and lost out to Hayward on the chief executive’s job three years ago.
Dudley has experience protecting BP’s interests under great pressure. As chief of TNK-BP, a joint venture with a consortium of Russian billionaires, he steered the firm through a series of politically explosive disputes that saw one employee charged with espionage, the company’s offices raided by Russian intelligence, an investor boycott, and tax and labor investigations.