From The Washington Post:
Meet BP’s Bob Dudley, the human relief well.
This week the Mississippi-bred, wispy-haired Dudley has been paraded through the Gulf coast, the White House and press corps as the new face of BP’s fight to contain the damage the oil spill has unleashed on U.S. shores — and the company’s reputation.
Why do I get the feeling that the emphasis will be on the company’s rep, not the damage that’s already been done and will be done?
But it will take more than Dudley’s calm demeanor and American accent to clean up BP’s image, which has been blackened by the relentless video of oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico, the widening damage to the environment and reams of damning documents about the rig accident that triggered the spill.
Even Dudley realizes that. “We can understand why the nation is angry with BP,” he told a group of reporters Thursday. He added, “until we close the well off, I think there’s a period here where its going to be very difficult to restore BP’s reputation.”
He can understand why we’re pissed? They sent us a genius!
Since the April 20 blowout, hundreds of BP employees have been rushed to the Gulf coast to do everything from consulting on ways to plug the leak to coordinating cleanup. Now BP wants some of them to go back to their regular jobs, while hiring outsiders who might be better suited to running a cleanup operation.
Somewhere in there, I’m reading that other people will work for less money.
Fixing up disasters, Dudley said, “is not a core competency with us.” He said that he hoped to bring in James Lee Witt, who was director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency under President Bill Clinton.
Dudley will report to Hayward, who will return to running the rest of the company after devoting the past two months to the spill.
Dudley said that by setting up a dedicated division for the oil spill, BP was making a long-term commitment, not limiting its liabilities. He said all 33 claims offices would remain open and be used by Kenneth Feinberg, administrator of the new $20 billion escrow fund set up at the White House’s behest last week.
He said he would support changes such as adding blimps to help guide skimming boats to oil sheens in the Gulf and paying business claims a month in advance rather than retrospectively so businesses in the region could function better.
Though BP announced three weeks ago that it intended to set up an oil spill unit, administration officials at the White House meeting last Wednesday asked that the plan be put into effect immediately, Dudley said. He will be a key link between BP and the administration. In a meeting Thursday, Environmental Protection Agency administrator Lisa Jackson told Dudley that she wanted additional tests near the spill site. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar talked about what progress was required before the deepwater drilling moratorium is lifted.
Born in Queens, N.Y., to a Navy officer, Dudley moved to Hattiesburg, Miss., at age 5 when his father became a professor at the University of Southern Mississippi. Dudley says “all my childhood memories are from there.” He spent summers on the coast.
A chemical engineer, he worked for 19 years at Amoco, which in 1998 was taken over by BP. At BP, Dudley worked on strategy and became one of then chief executive John Browne’s “turtles,” executive assistants who were groomed for higher posts. In 2003, Dudley moved to Russia to take over TNK-BP, a lucrative joint venture with Russian partners.
I wonder if Princess Sarah saw him from her house!
Most recently, Dudley has worked out of BP headquarters in London. On May 1, during a visit to India, he received a call to help with the spill response; now, he said, he will live out of a suitcase.
Like Hayward, Dudley said he didn’t have an opinion about the cause of the oil spill. “I haven’t read even our internal investigation on this,” he said. He noted, however, that many people weren’t waiting for the investigations to be complete. “There is sort of a rush to justice,” he said.
So let me get this straight. Bo Diddley…I mean, Bob Dudley grew up in the area that’s been devastated by the disaster, and he never got curious enough over the past 2 months to read a report and find out what happened? Oh yeah, this will end well.