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September 30, 2010

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BP launches new safety unit

BP has announced the creation of a new safety division with sweeping powers to oversee and audit the company’s operations across the globe.

The under-fire offshore giant moved to set up the new Safety & Operational Risk function following the Deepwater Horizon explosion in the Gulf of Mexico and its own investigation into the disaster.

The new division will have authority to intervene in all aspects of BP’s technical activities, and will comprise its own expert staff embedded in BP’s operating units, including exploration projects and refineries.

Headed by Mark Bly and reporting directly to incoming chief executive Bob Dudley, the unit will be responsible for ensuring that all operations are carried out to common standards, and for auditing compliance with those standards.

The creation of the unit is one of a number of major changes announced by Dudley as he prepares to take over his new role on 1 October. He also plans to re-structure BP’s Upstream segment from a single business into three functional divisions – Exploration, Development, and Production – a move designed to increase accountability of risk management.

The company will also carry out a detailed and wide-ranging review of how it manages third-party contractors, as well as review how it incentivises business performance, including reward strategy, with the aim of encouraging excellence in safety and risk management.

Insisting that safety and risk management is the company’s most urgent priority, Dudley said: “These are the first and most urgent steps in a programme I am putting in place to rebuild trust in BP – the trust of our customers, of governments, of our employees, and of the world at large.”

He continued: “This is a deeply challenging time for BP. The Macondo incident was a tragedy that claimed the lives of 11 people, caused injury to many others, and had a widespread environmental impact.

“Our response to the incident needs to go beyond deepwater drilling. There are lessons for us relating to the way we operate, the way we organise our company, and the way we manage risk.”

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