BP Chief Tells the 'Real Story'
Insists in memo company recovery is on track despite media reports
LONDON -- Dismissing recent media attention on its operations in the Gulf of Mexico and in Russia as "noise," BP PLC's chief executive Bob Dudley sought to reassure staff this week that the company is recovering from last year's Gulf of Mexico disaster, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.
Dudley, in an internal email Monday, told employees to look "away from the headlines," citing news reports of a raid on its Moscow offices and an oil sheen in the Gulf of Mexico, which BP has denied.
"We are making real, solid and measurable progress to build the new foundation for a strong and successful future," he said in the email, as cited by the newspaper.
BP shares have declined nearly 10% since Tuesday, following reports about the Moscow raid and the latest lawsuit related to the Gulf of Mexico spill.
The content of Monday's email largely reflected the company's public statements, but the tone indicated that top brass felt compelled to reassure workers that the company has turned a corner.
Dudley said the demise of the company's proposed joint venture with OAO Rosneft was "disappointing," but he said BP's Moscow office "is back to normal."
Dudley called the lawsuit that prompted the raid "baseless." The plaintiffs in the suit, who are shareholders in the Russian joint-venture TNK-BP, say they were damaged because an Arctic exploration deal with Rosneft wasn't completed with TNK-BP. The company's Russian investments through TNK-BP "continue to perform well," he wrote. "Keep your eyes on the road."
Dudley's note also had choice words for a lawsuit filed last week by contractor Halliburton Co., which says the British company withheld critical information about the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf of Mexico last year. "We vigorously oppose their position and believe that this latest set of assertions is neither relevant nor accurate," he said.
BP filed suit against Halliburton claiming, among other things, misrepresentation and concealment by the contractor. Halliburton responded with its own claims of fraud against BP.
Dudley in the memo cited a number of recent achievements since he took over last year following the explosion of the BP-operated Deepwater Horizon that led to the largest U.S. offshore oil spill ever. He said the company had lowered its injury rate and that maintenance of oil facilities was on track.
BP has said that it has spent more than $7 billion compensating people who suffered in the spill while "investing in the Gulf states, supporting fishing and tourism and monitoring long-term impacts."
Dudley said BP had overhauled nearly half of its exploration and production facilities. He said "24 of 51 upstream turnarounds have already been completed and others are well under way."
Such progress "is the real story for BP, and you should communicate this to colleagues, friends and family," Dudley said.
BP has come under scrutiny from analysts over its growth plan following the demise of the Rosneft deal. But Dudley said the company was coming off "our best year in a decade in gaining new access to resources," citing recent contract awards in the Gulf of Mexico, Azerbaijan, Indonesia and elsewhere.