It has been over a week since BP (LON:BP) saw its chief executive Bernard Looney step down and the firm is now on the hunt for his replacement.
Looney stepped down following an investigation into his “conduct in respect of personal relationships with company colleagues” and misleading the board.
Since the news broke there has been much speculation into who will take the helm at the UK-based supermajor.
BP’s current chairman Helge Lund has already ruled himself out of the running. However, there are still a number of strong contenders within the firm and a possibility of external hires.
Energy Voice’s Europe editor, Allister Thomas, and print features lead, Ryan Duff, sat down to discuss the frontrunners.
Murray Auchincloss may be the obvious suggestion for the BP chief executive role, given that he was thrust into the role of interim CEO last week.
BP’s chief financial officer is considered to have a more “straight down the line” approach to investors, says Allister, when compared to the outgoing nature of his predecessor.
As he holds the interim top spot, BP has announced Kate Thomson as its new interim chief financial officer.
Ryan suggests that maybe this indicates that he is a favourite in the running with a suitable replacement for his current role sourced and his willingness to stand up when needed.
With almost three decades at the London-listed supermajor, a discussion on BP’s next CEO has to include the firm’s current executive vice president of regions, corporates and solutions, William Lin.
Having been with the firm for 28 years and as the head of BP’s regions, Lin has done his fair share of globetrotting, having worked in the US, Egypt, China, Indonesia and Aberdeen.
“They love having the execs in the North Sea heartland at one point or the other” said Allister.
Having spent so long with the company, Ryan says he is “a part of the fixtures and fittings” and having served in various areas of the BP business, William Lin has a strong understanding of operations around the globe.
Serving as the “karmic balance” to William Lin, Anja-Isabel Dotzenrath is also in the discussion after being hired in 2021.
She is the current executive vice president of gas and low carbon energy and has worked at firms such as RWE Renewables and E.ON SE. This may position Anja-Isabel as the “energy transition candidate of the bunch.”
The appointment of Anja-Isabel Dotzenrath could serve as an “important marker” says Allister, adding: “It does say a lot about what the board values if you appoint someone like that.”
It is also worth noting that Ms Dotzenrath would be BP’s first female chief executive if she were to be given the job.
The final internal candidate Allister and Ryan discussed was Gordon Birrell, BP’s current executive vice president of production and operations.
Allister said: “Whenever I’m at these international conferences, I look out for Gordon Birrell because if there’s anybody who’s actually going to talk about the North Sea, it’s going to be him.”
Labelled as the “friendly Scottish voice” amongst the candidates by the Energy Voice pair, Mr Birrell has served previously as the chairman of the International Oil and Gas Producers Association chairman for two years and was BP’s head of upstream until February 2020.
Bernard Looney also held the role of head of upstream at BP before becoming CEO, prompting the question, will Gordon Birrell follow a similar career trajectory?