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Grill baby, grill! BP CEO Hayward apologies, explains leak to Congress

Melissa Kaplan Jun 17, 2010

BP CEO Tony Hayward is facing the music and looking somber at his congressional hearing explaining the how’s, why’s and what’s of BP’s massive oil spill. The executive is up against what many have described as a public execution. Will his disposition and oil slick-talk successfully ease the public and officials?

Here are a few highlights from his prepared remarks:

Hayward asserts that BP doesn’t have a final answer for what caused the accident, but explains the company is investigating everything from pressure tests conducted to the cement that seals the reservoir from the well:

“The investigation team’s work thus far suggests that this accident was brought about by the apparent failure of a number of processes, systems and equipment. While the team’s work is not done, it appears that there were multiple control mechanisms — procedures and equipment — in place that should have prevented this accident or reduced the impact of the spill.”

Hayward also details a few of the resources in place for clean-up:

On the open water, more than 4,200 response vessels are in use, including skimmers, storage barges, tugs, and other vessels. The Hoss barge, the world’s largest skimming vessel, has been onsite since April 25. In addition, there are 49 deepwater skimming vessels, which includes ten 210-foot MSRC Oil Responder Class Vessels, which each have the capacity to collect, separate, and store 4,000 barrels of oily water mix. To date, over 400,000 barrels of oily water mix have been recovered.

Hayward notes that more than 27,000 personnel are actively cleaning up the spill, and BP is helping to train and organize more than 19,000 citizen volunteers. He makes a lofty comparison in sizing up the effort:

Some of the best minds and the deepest expertise are being brought to bear. With the possible exception of the space program in the 1960s, it is difficult to imagine the gathering of a larger, more technically proficient team in one place in peacetime.

After the apologies, Hayward insists that it’s still too early to point fingers and put forth definitive answers on the crisis:

I understand people want a simple answer about why this happened and who is to blame. The truth, however, is that 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. There is still extensive work to do.

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