Sep 15, 2010 11:43 AM by Melissa Canone
LONDON (AP) - Outgoing BP CEO Tony Hayward defended his
company's safety record Wednesday in the face of questions from
British lawmakers, and said the Gulf of Mexico oil spill should not
lead to a universal ban on deepwater drilling.
Hayward gave evidence to a British parliamentary committee,
months after he offered few explanations for the accident at a
testy hearing in Washington.
The head of the British committee eschewed the confrontational
tone adopted by U.S. legislators, but gently pressed Hayward and
BP's head of safety Mark Bly - author of the company's internal
report into the spill - for specifics on the mistakes that
contributed to the accident.
Committee chair Tim Yeo said that "three years ago, you were
quoted as saying you were going to focus ... laser-like on safety.
"On your watch as chief executive, in that three years, now
we've had the biggest ever oil spill in U.S. waters," said Yeo, a
Hayward insisted that BP's safety record is "better than the
industry average" and said no corners had been cut in the interest
of saving money.
Hayward, who will be replaced on Oct. 1 by chief executive Bob
Dudley, an American, told Parliament's Energy and Climate Change
Committee the industry at large would improve safety as a result of
He said the oil industry will "significantly enhance the
testing protocols of blowout preventers" following the explosion
at the Macondo well on April 20, which killed 11 workers and
triggered the massive spill.
But he said the response to the accident should not be "calls
for universal bans on deepwater drilling."
"No single factor caused the accident, and multiple parties
including BP, Haliburton and Transocean were involved," said
Hayward, who appeared relaxed and spoke confidently.
Hayward said inquiries would continue to scrutinize the
decisions that contributed to the Gulf spill, which he said he
"There is much still to learn about the Deepwater Horizon
accident," he said.
Hayward endured an onslaught of criticism when he appeared
before the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee in June. He
insisted he had little knowledge of decisions that contributed to
the explosion at the Macondo well.
Hayward repeatedly told the U.S. committee he could not provide
detailed explanations. "I'm not stonewalling. I simply was not
involved in the decision-making process," he said.
Yeo's panel is considering whether additional regulation is
needed in Britain, and whether the U.K. government was right not to
follow President Barack Obama's lead in imposing a moratorium on
new deep water drilling.
Both Transocean and BP PLC, which operated the Deepwater Horizon
platform mining the Macondo well, have operations in the North Sea
off the coast of the U.K., where there are 24 drilling rigs and 280
oil and gas installations.
Britain's government has increased the number of rig inspectors
there following the Gulf disaster, but environmentalists - noting a
government agency report last month that revealed a spike in
accidental leaks and serious injuries to workers on offshore
platforms - say a moratorium on drilling is needed.
The Financial Times reported Wednesday that all but one of BP's
North Sea installations examined by government inspectors last year
were cited for failure to comply with emergency regulations on oil
spills. Citing inspection records obtained under Britain's Freedom
of Information Act, it revealed BP had not complied with rules on
training for offshore operators and had failed to conduct adequate
oil spill exercises.
Yeo said his panel would question Hayward on the lack of
training for offshore workers.
"My hope is that we can extract the lessons that need to be
learned for the future of deep water drilling in the U.K.," he
The British committee has previously taken evidence from
Transocean. It will issue a series of recommendations on safety,
likely before the end of the year, but has no powers to compel
Britain's Conservative-led government to accept its findings.