When Bob Dudley became BP’s chief executive in 2010 hefaced a political and public backlash in the US after the deadly Gulf of Mexico blowout. He had to bring the energy major back from the brink of collapse and secure its societal licence to operate. Nearly a decade on, as he hands over a revived company to Bernard Looney, BP’s long-term survival is once again under scrutiny amid pressure to act on climate change – a challenge that the entire oil and gas industry is grappling with.
“Bob steered BP through a difficult time that is unprecedented in the last 30 years. The situation BP faced was unique to the company,” said Jason Gammel, energy analyst at Jefferies. “Now Bernard faces a set of choices that all of its peers also have.” After managing the Deepwater Horizon disaster, the fractious break-up of the TNK-BP joint venture in Russia and the oil price crash of 2014, Mr Dudley focused on the “dual challenge” of providing the world with more energy while dramatically reducing em1ss1ons. However, it is his successor who must spell out what this means for BP’s corporate strategy.
The pressure is mounting. Shareholders are demanding BP take greater action on climate change, Greenpeace activists this year scaled one of its North Sea oil rigs and shut down its London headquarters. BP’s funding of the arts is also under scrutiny.