BP reported a record quarterly net loss of $17 billion today. It was the company's first quarterly loss in 18 years and came despite a 34 percent rise in revenue, up to $75.8 billion. For the same quarter last year, BP reported a profit of $4.39 billion.

In another first, the company moved to appoint an American as head of the company. As expected, the company announced Robert Dudley, who hails from Mississippi, will take the reins from Tony Hayward starting October 1. Reporting on BP's press conference today, the Associated Press quoted Dudley acknowledging a long road ahead to financial recovery for BP. Today the company announced it would be selling off $30 billion in assets over the next 18 months and setting aside $32.2 billion to cover costs of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.  

Dudley called the oil spill a "wake-up call not only for BP, but the oil and gas industry overall, and we will be looking deeply at our review of operational safety and what we have learned from this spill." He added the company plans to keep its presence in the U.S. "I think we have a lot to offer in the United States to the oil and gas industry and getting this right, working in the U.S., meeting those commitments and cooperating with officials is vital to BP's future success in America," he said.

Explaining his decision to leave the group he has led for three-and-a-half years, Hayward said: "I believe this tragedy will leave BP a different company. I believe for it to move on in the United States it needs new leadership and it is for that reason I have stood down as the CEO. I think BP's response to this tragedy has been a model of good social corporate responsibility. It has mounted an unprecedented response."

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