BP PLC (NYSE ADR: BP) last week confirmed that Robert Dudley – an American and a company insider – would be replace Tony Hayward as the company's chief executive officer in a move that's intended to improve the battered BP image.
Dudley, who takes over Oct. 1, will have to take on a double-edged challenge. He has to continue the cleanup effort that he's headed since June. And he must persuade the U.S. government that BP should be allowed to continue offshore drilling work in the Gulf of Mexico – the region it has targeted for 25 of its 40 future production operations over the next five years.
Because he's led the BP oil-spill-response efforts since June, Dudley has developed a much closer rapport with U.S. officials than his predecessor. Make no mistake: The respect he commands was a key reason for BP's swap at the top.