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BP chief Dudley's pay rises 20 percent to more than $12 million

Group Chief Executive of BP Bob Dudley speaks during a news conference in Basra, southeast of Baghdad, September 4, 2014. REUTERS/ Essam Al-Sudani

LONDON (Reuters) - BP Chief Executive Bob Dudley's total compensation rose by more than 20 percent to $12.74 million (8.28 million pounds) in 2014, when the company's profit fell due to lower oil prices and production.

Dudley's salary and annual bonus fell to $2.95 million from $4.21 million in 2013 but deferred bonuses and performance shares' awards rose to $9.79 million from $5.96 million a year earlier, according to a BP regulatory filing.

As a result, his total remuneration rose to $12.74 million in 2014 from $10.17 million in 2013.

Executive pay is regularly a thorny issue at BP's annual shareholding meetings.

Last year, some shareholders opposed approval of Dudley's 2013 pay, which tripled on 2012, citing outstanding legal suits in the United States over the Macondo oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. The pay was approved by a majority of shareholders.

BP argues that it can retain top talent only by paying its executives competitive salaries, which are still far below those in the United States.

Rex Tillerson, the long-serving chief executive of Exxon Mobil, earned $40 million in 2012, falling to $28 million in 2013. Chevron's chief John Watson's compensation also fell to $24 million in 2013 from $32.2 million in 2012.

BP said its chief financial officer Brian Gilvary's total compensation rose to 3.07 million pounds from 2.17 million pounds while the long-serving head of downstream Iain Cohn, who left the company last year, received 5.81 million pounds, up from 3.71 million in 2013.

(This story was refiled to correct punctuation in headline)

(Reporting by Dmitry Zhdannikov; editing by Susan Thomas)