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BP loses $17 billion, but is worst over as Robert Dudley takes reins?

BP earmarked $32.2 billion last quarter for current and future Gulf oil spill costs – leading to $17 billion in losses. Yet BP is cautiously optimistic with Robert Dudley set to take over in October.

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BP Managing Director Bob Dudley stands outside BP's headquarters in London Tuesday. On Tuesday, BP confirmed that chief executive Tony Hayward will quit and announced that it lost more than $17 billion in the second quarter because of Gulf oil spill relief efforts.

Toby Melville/Reuters

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The oil giant BP reported a $17 billion loss for the year's second quarter – a gargantuan hit to the firm that reflects key costs of the Gulf oil spill.

But the loss comes at a moment when BP is poised to put some of the biggest challenges of the Gulf oil spill crisis behind it.

IN PICTURES: Destructive Oil Spills

Among the changes of recent weeks:

• Along with the quarterly results, BP announced a change in top leadership. Tony Hayward, who enraged many Americans with a demeanor that appeared insensitive to the distress of Gulf residents, will be replaced by BP Managing Director Robert Dudley. Mr. Dudley will become the London-based corporation's first American chief executive.

• Progress has been made on stopping the flow of oil. A cap has prevented any more oil from spewing into the Gulf of Mexico, and BP could stop the well permanently within weeks.

• The company has set aside $20 billion to pay economic damages to Gulf-area communities and businesses, and a new independent administrator, Kenneth Feinberg, is working to get the money moving faster to spill victims.

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