Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

BP Chief 'Sliced and Diced' by US Congress over Oil Spill

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

BP Chief 'Sliced and Diced' by US Congress over Oil Spill

Article excerpt

Byline: Jonathan Prynn Consumer Business Editor

THE chief executive of BP was being "sliced and diced" by US politicians over the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster today.

Tony Hayward was battling to save the energy giant as he faced a grilling by Congress. He admitted the world was watching his company and said he was "personally devastated" by the spill.

But he was aiming to spread the blame. In prepared remarks, Mr Hayward was due to say: "This is a complex accident, caused by an unprecedented combination of failures.

A number of companies are involved, including BP, and it is simply too early to understand the cause."

Following a meeting at the White House yesterday, BP provisionally agreed the biggest compensation payment in corporate history, setting up a fund worth at least [pounds sterling]13.5 billion. Shares in the company rose five per cent in London this morning.

Earlier, BP Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg had been forced to apologise after telling reporters the firm was not greedy and that it cared "about the small people". He conceded that he "spoke clumsily". Mr Hayward was appearing before the House of Representatives energy and commerce committee, whose chairman Bart Stupac said he would be "sliced and diced". He was also facing one of Washington's toughest inquisitors, Henry Waxman. In a letter to the chief executive, Mr Waxman said he would be seeking answers to why five key decisions were taken in the run up to the explosion.

"The common feature of these five decisions is that they posed a tradeoff between cost and safety," the letter said. "It appears that BP repeatedly chose risky procedures in order to reduce costs and save time and made minimal efforts to contain the added risk." Mr Hayward was expected to say that until the leak is plugged successfully "no words will be satisfying". …

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