TONY HAYWARD, BP’s embattled chief executive, yesterday sought to distance himself from the devastating Gulf of Mexico oil spill during a heated interrogation by Senators.

Hayward, who appeared before the House energy and commerce sub-committee panel looking tired and worn-out, told Senators that all of the decisions made about the Macondo well, which is gushing oil into the water, before and after the drilling were made beneath him.

But he was profuse in his apologies on behalf of his firm. “I am absolutely devastated by the incident and I feel great sorrow,” he said repeatedly. He called the oil spill a “tragedy” that “never should have happened and I am deeply sorry that it did”.

When quizzed about emails sent among drilling engineers at BP calling the well a “nightmare”, Hayward said that he was not familiar with any communication between staff members or the decisions made prior to or during the drilling of the well.

His comments angered Senators. They accused Hayward of “stonewalling” their questions with “memorised statements”. Hayward replied: “I’m not stonewalling. I simply was not involved in the decision-making process.”

The committee also accused the oil major of cutting corners to save on cost and time in the lead up to the drilling of the Macondo well. “Isn’t it pretty clear that costs decisions were made that were sub-optimal,” said Washington representative Jay Inslee.

Hayward said that he would take action against anyone found putting cost ahead of safety and “had no evidence of reckless behaviour.”

Prime Minister David Cameron, however, finally spoke up in defence of BP yesterday. He said: “This is an important multinational company. It’s important to the UK and it’s also important, I would argue, to the US.”

BP is considering various debt financing options, including bank loans and a corporate bond sale of up to $10bn to raise cash to deal with the spill. MORE:P4-P5