David Prosser: Dudley prepares for stage two of thegreat BP clean-up


Outlook It is known in business as the "kitchen sink" strategy and for the new boss of a company with problems, it is an attractive proposition. On day one in the job, you dramatically announce you're chucking out everything that went before (including the kitchen sink) under the discredited management, in favour of new arrangements you will supervise personally. Goodbye tarnished brand, hello shiny new image.

If only it were that simple for BP. Robert Dudley is clearly desperate to make an early splash as he replaces Tony Hayward in the chief executive's office. His announcement of a management shake-up yesterday – two days before he even takes over – is the beginning of a campaign to put the Gulf of Mexico catastrophe behind BP. Out goes the head of the exploration unit – another symbolic ousting of someone in the chain of command above Macondo – and in comes an all-powerful safety unit.

The new chief executive has two goals in mind. No doubt, he is utterly sincere in his promise to improve BP's safety record, but we won't be in a position to judge him on that pledge for years to come. The more pressing objective in the short term is to placate BP's critics in the US, many of whom are still pressing for potentially ruinous action against the company.

There may not be a great deal BP can do now to influence the various official inquiries that, were they to find it guilty of gross negligence, threaten potentially huge fines – it has already made its own submissions to such probes. But Mr Dudley will hope to see some moderation in the tone of USlegislators. The House of Representatives has already cleared new health and safety laws that would effectively bar BP from any further offshore drilling in American waters. If the legislation were to make it onto the statute book – and those politicians standing forre-election in November's mid-terms will be aware of the public anger against BP – the new chief executive's task in restoring the company's fortunes suddenly looks much larger.

Since BP finally cappedMacondo earlier this month,sentiment around the company has improved. The share price has bounced and it managed to get a large bond issue away this week with no great difficulty. However, assuming that the company is now in the clear would be a great mistake. Mr Dudley's pre-emptive strike yesterday is an indicator of how much work he thinks BP has to do to get itself out of this mess. He is not complacent and nor should shareholders be.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Mortgage Advisor - OTE £95,000

£40000 - £95000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

competitive: SThree: Are you passionate about sales?Do you have a keen interes...

Recruitment Genius: Loan Adviser - OTE £30,000

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Assistant / Buyer

£15000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company offers a range of ...

Day In a Page

Isis in Syria: Influential tribal leaders hold secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over possibility of mobilising against militants

Tribal gathering

Influential clans in Syria have held secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over the possibility of mobilising against Isis. But they are determined not to be pitted against each other
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians
Dozens of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen linked to Indian bribery scandal die mysteriously

Illnesses, car crashes and suicides

Dozens of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen linked to Indian bribery scandal die mysteriously
Srebrenica 20 years after the genocide: Why the survivors need closure

Bosnia's genocide, 20 years on

No-one is admitting where the bodies are buried - literally and metaphorically
How Comic-Con can make or break a movie: From Batman vs Superman to Star Wars: Episode VII

Power of the geek Gods

Each year at Comic-Con in San Diego, Hollywood bosses nervously present blockbusters to the hallowed crowd. It can make or break a movie
What do strawberries and cream have to do with tennis?

Perfect match

What do strawberries and cream have to do with tennis?
10 best trays

Get carried away with 10 best trays

Serve with ceremony on a tray chic carrier
Wimbledon 2015: Team Murray firing on all cylinders for SW19 title assault

Team Murray firing on all cylinders for title assault

Coaches Amélie Mauresmo and Jonas Bjorkman aiming to make Scot Wimbledon champion again
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Vasek Pospisil must ignore tiredness and tell himself: I'm in the quarter-final, baby!

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

Vasek Pospisil must ignore tiredness and tell himself: I'm in the quarter-final, baby!
Ashes 2015: Angus Fraser's top 10 moments from previous series'

Angus Fraser's top 10 Ashes moments

He played in five series against Australia and covered more as a newspaper correspondent. From Waugh to Warne and Hick to Headley, here are his highlights
Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

Heavy weather

What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

World Bodypainting Festival 2015

Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

Don't call us nerds

Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high