The $19.6m (£14m) remuneration bonanza was condemned by the High Pay Centre as another example of a company losing “contact with reality” when it came to handing out fortunes to top directors.
The 20% year-on-year increase in salary, shares and pension payments was revealed in the oil group’s annual report.
The company said that Dudley deserved his hike in total remuneration because he and his fellow directors had performed strongly at a difficult time.
“Despite the very challenging environment, BP delivered strong operating and safety performance throughout 2015 and responded early and decisively to the steep fall in the oil price.
“The oil price is outside BP’s control, but executives performed strongly in managing the things they could control and for which they are accountable. BP surpassed expectations on most measures and directors’ remuneration reflects this.”
The company also pointed out that the 2015 total pay package was swollen by a $3.5m extra pension adjustment to bring payments under Dudley’s US scheme in line with UK financial regulations.
Without the pension and retirement elements in the total pay package, the BP boss’s pay actually dropped year on year.
But Stefan Stern, a director at the High Pay Centre, which monitors executive remuneration, said it was a terrible example to set at a time when 7,000 staff were losing their jobs.
“This is another example of where a company has lost contact with reality – as well as the English language. Talking about bonuses and performance-related pay at a time of crisis in the industry does not seem like the real world.
“This is why we need employee representatives involved in these kinds of decisions – as a reality check as to what is acceptable and defensible. Is the boss being given a performance-related reward for getting rid of other people?
“We just don’t know. The sheer complexity of these pay packages is part of the problem. It means that only advisers and remuneration experts really understand what is going on. That can’t be good for transparency.”
This article was written by Terry Macalister Energy Editor, for theguardian.com on Friday 4th March 2016 12.28 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010