Feature

The shake-up at BP

BP has replaced its embattled CEO, Tony Hayward, with its first-ever American CEO, Mississippi-born Robert Dudley.

With its cap on the broken oil well hblic anger” over the spill and said the company needed a “new face” to move forward. The company also announced olding and cleanup efforts in the Gulf of Mexico underway, BP this week replaced embattled CEO Tony Hayward with its first-ever American CEO, Robert Dudley. Hayward acknowledged that he had become “a lightning rod for puit’s setting aside $32.2 billion for oil spill costs and will sell up to $30 billion worth of assets—triple what it had said in June was needed for the cleanup.

The oil slick on the surface of the Gulf is dissolving far more quickly than anyone expected, thanks to strong summer sunlight, natural oil-eating bacteria, and thousands of gallons of chemical dispersants. But nobody knows how much oil is dissolved in the waters of the Gulf, or how much damage it will cause.

Putting an American in charge of BP is a smart move, said Nile Gardiner in National Review Online. After all, the company, formerly British Petroleum, is now “a truly Anglo-American operation” that employs 29,000 people in the U.S. The British Hayward was a disaster during the crisis, “prone to gaffes and seemingly insensitive to the plight of the large number of U.S. victims.” The Mississippi-born Dudley is a welcome change.

Gulf residents are skeptical, said the New Orleans Times-Picayune in an editorial. Dumping Hayward will prove to be another cynical PR move unless BP delivers—now—on its promises of compensation to the Gulf region. We won’t miss Hayward’s “self-absorbed whining.” But “plugging the gaffes is a small matter; making things right is a much more critical mission.”

BP is still stonewalling, said Robert B. Gagosian and Christopher F. D’Elia in The Washington Post. A $500 million research initiative it promised has been shelved. Instead, it is hiring scientists to argue its case in the federal damage assessment process. As a result, crucial data “will be tied up in the courts,” unavailable to researchers. It’s “a terrible loss of scientific opportunity and information critical to planning better responses to future spills.”

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