Man from southern US tipped to take top job
Currently BP's managing director on a salary of 1.5 million, the oil industry veteran has 30 years' experience.
He joined BP's board 18 months ago - taking responsibility for the company's operations in Asia and the Americas - after leading a joint venture between BP and a group of Russian billionaires to exploit oil fields in Siberia.
Despite the venture ending badly, when AAR accused Mr Dudley of favouring BP, the deal increased oil output by a third to 1.6 million barrels a day.
Having grown up in Mississippi, his appointment would be a positive public relations move for the company described as "Public Enemy Number One" in the United States since the oil spill. BP claims Mr Dudley has a "deep appreciation and affinity for the Gulf Coast".
Mr Dudley has a BA in chemical engineering from the University of Illinois, and also holds an MBA from Southern Methodist University.
He started his career in 1979 at oil company Amoco, which was taken over by BP in 1998.