TIM Yeo, chairman of the energy and climate change select committee, has said there was “a degree of over-reaction”over the Gulf of Mexico oil spill after outgoing BP chief executive Tony Hayward was quizzed by MPs yesterday.
Yeo said BP was the “unwitting victim” of US domestic politics after Hayward told the parliamentary committee that the failings which caused the spill were not particular to the company he heads.
“It’s been easy for some parties to suggest that this is a problem with BP. I emphatically do not believe that that is the case,” the outgoing chief executive said.
Hayward denied that there was any link between the accident and previous safety lapses at BP such as a 2005 refinery blast that killed 15 workers.
“It’s very dangerous to join up dots that may not be appropriate to join up,” he said.
Hayward said the decision of rivals such as Royal Dutch Shell and Exxon Mobil to
criticise it in the wake of the disaster reflected the political climate in the United States at
the time, rather than because of BP operating outside industry norms, as the companies
Hayward received a less confrontational treatment from the committee than he received
from a US Congressional committee. His appearance came on the same day regulators criticised BP for its safety training regime in the North Sea.
Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspectors found the company lacked a clear chain of command for dealing with a loss of well control on a North Sea oil rig – three months before a blow-out in the Gulf of Mexico caused America’s worst ever oil spill.
In a letter HSE said to BP that there was “evidence of a culture among your contractors, Seawell (up to senior levels of management), of working outside of procedures, permit or permit conditions”.
City A.M. Reporter