Exclusive: Robert Dudley: ‘We Are Going to Change’

By Kate McCarthy

Jul 27, 2010 7:17am

The incoming BP CEO, Bob Dudley, promised change as he prepares to take over the company responsible for the massive oil leak in the Gulf.

“I think sometimes events like this shake you to the core, the foundation, and you have two responses, one is to runaway and hide, the other is to respond and really change the culture of the company and make sure all the checks and balances are there, just to make sure this does not happen again,” he told me on“GMA.”

The new boss called it a “difficult day” when Tony Hayward stepped down as CEO. Hayward has come under harsh criticism following a series of public gaffes. Dudley, a Mississippi native and the first American to head the company, has been leading BP’s efforts in the Gulf. He will take over as CEO October 1.

“We are going to hold ourselves to a higher standard, I suspect that the American people and the regulators in the United States will hold us to a higher standard. That seems reasonable to me and we are going to respond to that and we are going to change,” he said.

On the 99th day of the oil leak Dudley said the first item on his agenda is to seal the well and cleanup the Gulf. BP will attempt the “static kill” well next week.

“It is a terrible tragic accident, we’re going to learn a lot, the industry is going to learn a lot and there is no question we will change as a company and from those learnings,” he told me.

The leaking well in the Gulf “came out of nowhere,” Dudley said, and dismissed the company’s safety record as outdated.

“Many of those accidents occurred about a half a decade ago and that is what you see rolling through in terms of those safety violations,” Dudley told me. “When Tony Hayward did come in he laid the foundations for a strong focus on safe and reliable operations and the company has been moving in that direction, it takes some time.”

BP has set aside $32.2 billion for the oil leak, the company announced. BP suffered a second quarter loss of $17 billion – but the new CEO promised growth.

“BP will be a slightly smaller company. We’ve announced assets divestments between $25 and $30 billion, out of a company that has $250 billion worth of assets. It will be smaller and financially it will grow,” Dudley said.

–George Stephanopoulos

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