BP Taps Mississippi Native Bob Dudley to Oversee Gulf Oil Spill Response

BP (BP) officially announced on Wednesday that Bob Dudley (pictured) has replaced CEO Tony Hayward as the person in charge of the oil giant's long-term response to the leaking deep-water oil well in the Gulf of Mexico, as well as all the environmental cleanup and restoration efforts for the Gulf Coast region.

The company said Dudley, BP's managing director, will command its newly organized Gulf Coast Restoration Organization, which will coordinate efforts with the U.S. Coast Guard, government officials and the Gulf states to seal the well, continue to execute cleanup operations, implement a $20 billion escrow fund to compensate businesses and other victims of the spill, ensure payment of claims of damages, and handle all communication with the public about the spill and cleanup activities. Dudley will report directly to Hayward, who was criticized for his poor handling of efforts to stop the leak, as well as for several verbal gaffes to the press.

It is hoped that Dudley, who grew up in Mississippi and formerly led BP's operations in the Americas and Asia, will have a better feel for what is needed in the region than Hayward did.

"The response to the incident in the Gulf of Mexico continues to be BP's highest priority," said Hayward in a statement. "Our commitment to the Gulf states is for the long-term. And that requires a more permanent sustainable organization to see it through."

Dudley said he is committed to restoring the environment of the Gulf Coast and livelihoods of those who work in the region.

"In the near term, my focus will be on listening to stakeholders, so we can address concerns and remove obstacles that get in the way of our effectiveness," he said.