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Published: Monday, 10/25/2010

Dudley says BP won't turn away from U.S. after Gulf spill


BP Plc Chief Executive Officer Robert Dudley said the company won't quit the U.S. after the nation's worst oil spill.

“I can promise you that I did not become chief executive of BP in order to walk away from the U.S.,” Dudley, who succeeded Tony Hayward at the start of the month, said in a speech to the Confederation of British Industry. “BP will not be quitting America. There is too much at stake, both for BP and the U.S.”

Dudley said there was a “great rush to judgment” on the accident in the Gulf of Mexico, which killed 11 people, and he asked for a “balanced and informed” assessment over the next few years. He promised to become one of the best in the energy industry at safety and win back investor and public trust in the London-based company.

The U.S.-born CEO is seeking to reassure shareholders that after the spill pushed the share price down 34 percent and forced BP to set aside $32 billion in the second quarter for cleanup and compensation. BP, the largest oil and gas producer in the U.S., employs 23,000 people and has half a million individual shareholders in the nation.

There “is strong support and a powerful desire for BP to succeed and prosper,” Dudley said. “That interest is shared by the British Government, which gave us such stalwart support during the recent crisis.”

The company, which pumped 40 percent of output in the U.S. last year, paid $25 billion in taxes and levies to the government in the last several years, Dudley said.

BP remained committed to exploration and production in deepwater areas, “one of the most important sources of growth for BP,” Dudley said.

“Our board and our management team are determined that BP will learn from and apply best practice from wherever it can be found, and that it will, over time, become the best company in our industry at managing risk,” Dudley said.

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