BP sets out to rebuild reputation

Bob Dudley
Image caption Bob Dudley said BP would get more deeply involved in the US

UK energy giant BP has outlined a strategy to revive the public's belief in its ability to operate in a responsible manner.

"We will earn back trust in BP and begin to restore the company's battered reputation," chief executive Bob Dudley told business leaders in London.

His comments came in his first external speech since taking the helm of BP.

Six months ago, the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded, causing a massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Action taken

Central to attempts to rebuild BP's reputation is the story about its efforts following the leak, Mr Dudley believes.

"The first thing to say is that we have stopped the leak and made huge progress in cleaning up the spill," Mr Dudley said.

"Second, our containment and clean-up efforts have gotten results.

"Third, we are meeting our commitments as a responsible party of this accident."

Mr Dudley insisted BP was "committed to learning the lessons from these shattering events at all levels".

Some of the new knowledge would come from "other hazardous industries, including nuclear and chemicals industries", he said.

The lessons learned, which also included new ways of managing third-party contractors, would be applied across the group's global business, aided by a new safety division that will oversee these efforts.

Deepwater drilling

Mr Dudley was also eager to stress that BP was "part of the American community", and that rather than pull out of the US, the company would get more deeply involved.

After all, he said, BP was the largest producer of oil and gas in the US as well as a major employer, with 23,000 people on its payroll.

"I did not become chief executive of BP in order to walk away from the US. BP will not be quitting America," he said.

BP could soon be back drilling in deep waters off the US coast, after Washington lifted a temporary moratorium, not least because the world will need more oil and gas, he reasoned.

"The deep waters are becoming an increasingly important source of energy to fuel the global economy," Mr Dudley said.

"And we are one of only a handful of companies with the financial and technological strength to undertake development projects in these difficult geographies."

BP's return may be controversial in the US, where many are still angry about the Gulf accident, but Mr Dudley is eager to reassure the American people.

"It can be done safely," Mr Dudley said.

"A silver lining of the event is the significant and sustained advance in industry preparedness that will now exist going forward, [including] the learnings and the equipment and techniques invested by necessity under pressure to contain the oil and stop the well."