Why speak to Obama? BP boss Tony Hayward risks more anger over oil spill

Mail Online

6th June 2010

BP boss Tony Hayward risked provoking fresh American anger yesterday by saying there was 'no need' for him to speak to President Obama about the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster.

In his first television interview for the UK since the spill, he rebuffed demands for his resignation and claimed the beleaguered company was finally making headway in plugging the leak.

He told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show that he had 'the absolute intention of seeing this through to the end'.

'It hasn't crossed my mind. It's clearly crossed other people's minds but not mine,' he told The Sunday Telegraph. He said he understood the widespread frustration at the length of time it was taking to contain the gushing oil well.

'I think the reaction is entirely understandable when something of this magnitude occurred. I'm also angry and frustrated,' he said.

Public and political pressure has been mounting on BP to cap its gushing seabed oil well and take full financial responsibility for the clean-up and damage caused to Gulf coast fisheries, wildlife and tourism.

Mr Hayward was widely criticised and quickly apologised for complaining he wanted his 'life back' weeks after the April 20 Deepwater Horizon rig explosion, which killed 11 workers and led to the worst oil spill in U.S. history.

He told the BBC today that a containment cap was capturing a 'large proportion' of the oil and hoped the vast majority would be under control soon.

Mr Hayward, already a hate figure in the U.S. over the leak, said he had not spoken directly to Mr Obama since the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded more than six weeks ago. 'There is no need for that. I have spoken to his key lieutenants,' he said.

In America, BP has been fiercely criticised for its actions over the leak.

At the weekend, it was attacked for taking out TV advertisements apologising for what has happened.

Mr Hayward said a containment cap was now collecting about 10,000 barrels of oil a day, about half the crude oil gushing from the ruptured undersea well, and BP hopes a second system will be working by next weekend.
'When those two are in place, we would very much hope to be containing the vast majority of the oil,' he added.
Asked earlier in an interview for The Sunday Telegraph whether he had considered resigning, Mr Hayward replied: 'It hasn't crossed my mind.
'It's clearly crossed other people's minds but not mine.'

He rejected claims that the incident showed oil companies were now operating beyond their technical capacity.

He said: 'The industry has been exploring in deep water for over twenty years and it has not had to contend with an incident of this sort before.'

He admitted the multi-national company had been devastated by the disaster, but said BP would survive, and has the 'wherewithal to weather this storm and come back strongly'.

He declined to say whether it would pay a dividend to shareholders scheduled at the end of July.