BP CEO Dudley draws up plans to step down: sources

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By Ron Bousso

LONDON (Reuters) – BP (L:) Chief Executive Officer Bob Dudley is drawing up plans to step down next year, ending a tumultuous decade at the helm of the oil and gas company that swung from near collapse in 2010 to rapid growth today, sources close to the company said on Monday.

BP’s first American CEO has indicated several times in closed discussions in recent years that he would like to retire at the age of 65, taking him into 2020.

His retirement plans were discussed at BP’s board meeting in the United States last week, but no final date has been decided, according to the sources.

A BP spokesman declined to comment.

Sky News reported on Saturday that Dudley plans to step down within a year and that an announcement could be made by the end of 2019.

Preparations for his departure were accelerated after Helge Lund became BP chairman in January 2019 with a mandate to oversee succession plans.

There has still been no decision on a successor, the sources said.

Chief Financial Officer Brian Gilvary and Bernard Looney, head of oil and gas production, are seen as leading candidates, sources have previously told Reuters.

Dudley became CEO after his predecessor Tony Hayward stepped down in the wake of the April 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico that left 11 rig workers dead and led to the largest oil spill in U.S. history. 

He has since had to navigate near bankruptcy, a vast asset disposal to pay for over $60 billion in litigation and clean-up costs followed by a landmark settlement with U.S. authorities.

A collapse in oil prices in 2014 also forced the entire industry into deep cuts.

After steadying the ship following the 2017 spill settlement, Dudley oversaw a recovery in the company’s operations and a rapid expansion of its production, including a $10.5 billion acquisition of U.S. shale assets, its largest such deal in 30 years.

He has also overseen BP’s efforts to address growing investor pressure to meet targets under the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement to fight climate change by investing in renewable energy and reducing BP’s carbon emissions.

Dudley has enjoyed overwhelming support from investors at BP’s annual general meetings, however a majority of shareholders opposed his 2016 pay package, forcing the company to slash it by 40%.

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