DALLAS - Oil giant BP could have a new man in charge by the end of the day.

Executives are set to meet this morning to decide the fate of CEO Tony Hayward. His likely replacement would be 54-year-old Robert Dudley, who has North Texas ties.

Dudley earned his Masters of Business Administration degree at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. If he is named the new CEO of London-based BP, he will be the first American to run the company.

Analysts say the change in command would be an indication that the company is preparing to deal with the consequences of the oil spill that include facing law suits and criminal charges.

Dudley grew up in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, and spent his summers fishing and swimming in the Gulf. He got his BA in chemical engineering from the University of Illinois, and spent 20 years with the Amoco Corporation.

For the last month, as BP's manager director, Dudley has headed up efforts to cleanup the spill in the Gulf.

Only three years ago, Dudley barely missed being named the CEO of BP, losing out to Hayward. Hayward has been greatly criticized for his response to the oil spill, pinpointing his continued vacation on his yacht and his I want my life back statement.

BP issued a statement overnight saying nothing is final yet, but The New York Times has reported it is all but a done deal.

As for the spill itself, work on drilling a relief well resumed the day after the downgraded Tropical Storm Bonnie blew through. The hope is to be able to shut down the well within a week.

If Dudley is named CEO, Hayward will reportedly get a compensation package totaling around $18 million, including his salary and pension.


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