Meet BP’s New Gulf Boss, Less British Than BP’s Old Gulf Boss

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Photo: Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images

Who is Robert Dudley, the man BP has chosen to take on management responsibilities of the Gulf crisis for CEO Tony Hayward, who was so shell-shocked from his congressional testimony last week that the transition was accelerated from August to today? He's a fixer of sorts, kind of the Michael Clayton of international oil disputes. After getting into arguments with the Russians when he was the CEO of a joint BP-Russian oil venture, he became BP's "foreign secretary," responsible for dealing "with sticky situations in India, China and, now, the United States." In fact, Dudley — "Bob," if you will — has a special skill set that makes him a particularly good fit for this situation.


Fadel Gheit, a senior oil analyst at Oppenheimer & Company, said Mr. Dudley will have an easier time dealing with the American public.

“He’s not only a good ol’ boy, but he’s from Mississippi and he doesn’t have a British accent,” Mr. Gheit said. “The media will take it a lot easier on him. He will fit in the landscape better than Tony Hayward.”

That may be true about the accent thing, and Dudley's Mississippi roots will make him seem more personally and sincerely invested in the cleanup effort. But keep in mind that America normally loves a charming British accent. It's only when that accent is used to say really dumb, insulting things that it becomes a liability.

BP Executive Prepares to Take Over Spill Response [NYT]