NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Talk of the imminent departure of embattled BP chief Tony Hayward has the rumor mill working overtime on the man expected to replace him.
So just who is Bob Dudley?
A chemical engineer by training, Dudley got his start in the oil business working for Amoco, where he spent nearly two decades before the company merged with BP in 1998.
Since then, he's worked with various BP (BP) divisions, including a brief stint helping to oversee the company's solar, wind and hydrogen businesses. Most recently, he headed up TNK-BP, a joint venture that would become Russia's third-largest oil and gas company. He was named to BP's board in 2009.
Dudley's breadth of work experience and tenure within the oil industry would certainly make him a natural choice to succeed Hayward.
But many believe what has thrust him to the top of the list of replacement candidates is his background as a native of the Gulf Coast region.
"On many levels, this response effort is very personal to me, as it is to others," Dudley said at a press conference last month, where he was joined by Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal.
Raised in Mississippi, Dudley spoke of moments swimming, fishing and family trips to the barrier islands off the coast of Mississippi and Louisiana.
Putting an American CEO in place, particularly one from the Gulf Coast region, could certainly help BP better manage the public relations nightmare the company is now facing, both locally and nationally.
The company has already committed $20 billion to compensate individuals and businesses affected by the spill. But it still could face billions more in fines and legal costs associated with the Deepwater Horizon, which exploded in April.
BP has since managed to temporarily cap the underwater well. But attempts to provide a permanent fix have been delayed as Tropical Storm Bonnie prompted crews to suspend efforts to create a relief well late last week. BP said Monday it will probably be several more days before it can resume drilling operations.
All eyes, however, have been focused on London where company board members are scheduled to meet Monday evening, most likely to determine Hayward's fate.
The company has insisted however that the former geologist remains at the helm despite recent reports.
It is believed that Hayward could announce his resignation when the company reports its second-quarter earnings Tuesday.
Hayward, who took over as CEO in May of 2007, was pulled off day-to-day leadership of the cleanup operation in June in favor of Dudley.
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