Bob Dudley, the chief executive of BP, will retire in February after nearly a decade in the job, the oil company announced Friday. The company’s chairman, Helge Lund, said in a statement that the move came at a “logical time for a change,” with BP charting its course through a global “energy transition.”
Concerns about climate change are growing, and BP and other energy companies are under pressure from investors, environmentalists and governments — especially in Europe — to reduce the carbon emissions for both its operations its products.
Bernard Looney, a longtime company insider who runs the crucial business of finding and developing oil and gas, was named as Mr. Dudley’s replacement.
Mr. Dudley, 64, became chief executive in 2010, succeeding Tony Hayward, after blowout of a well in the Gulf of Mexico that killed 11 people and caused a massive oil spill. Mr. Dudley, the first American to head BP, was widely credited with stabilizing the London-based oil giant at a time when its existence was threatened.
The company has largely recovered from the effects of the disaster in the gulf and has resumed making large investments in new oil and gas projects and acquisitions.
Mr. Looney, 49, comes from a traditional background for a chief executive of BP, which is known for finding and developing troves of oil and gas.
He joined BP in 1991 as a drilling engineer and worked in the North Sea, Vietnam and the Gulf of Mexico, including on the Thunder Horse field, a high-profile project. He also worked as an executive assistant to Mr. Hayward and his predecessor, John Browne. These roles often lead to advancement at BP.
Mr. Looney has headed BP’s upstream business, which explores for oil and gas and extracts it for sale to world markets, since 2016. According to BP, Mr. Looney recently clinched the deals to sell the company’s long-held oil fields in Alaska for $5.6 billion and to acquire the United States shale drilling assets of BHP Billiton last year for $10.5 billion.
Mr. Looney, who is Irish, has been pushing for internal changes at BP, including the greater use of technology to drill for and extract oil.
Mr. Looney may find himself with as challenging a mission as Mr. Dudley faced. Although BP was reeling from the Gulf of Mexico disaster, the future of oil and gas companies looked robust a decade ago. When Mr. Dudley started at BP, it looked like “demand would go to the sky,” said Oswald Clint, an analyst at Bernstein, a market research firm.
Now, Mr. Clint said, with climate change as an imperative to consider other energy sources, the future outlook for BP’s products is “opaque.”