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BP says media exaggerated oil spill out of proportion

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STEVE CHIOTAKIS: Now to the global perspective, what’s happening in business and economics around the world and how it affects the U.S. It’s the same story, but a different salesman over at British oil giant BP. Newly crowned CEO Bob Dudley told British business leaders in London that the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico was exaggerated out of proportion by the media. Something his predecessor claimed as well.

Marketplace’s Stephen Beard is with us live from London with the latest on this company line.

Good morning Stephen.

STEPHEN BEARD: Hello, Steve.

CHIOTAKIS: So, Dudley is blaming the media for the company’s battered reputation?

BEARD: Not just the media. He also blames rival oil companies like Shell which criticized the design of BP’s well in the Gulf. But Dudley does complain that the media carried lurid projections of how far the oil slick would travel. And there are some analysts here who agree that BP got, to some extent, some unfair press. Jason Kenney, an oil analyst for ING bank, says it was certainly bad luck for the company that the spill coincided with a slump in President Obama’s poll ratings and therefore acquired a major political dimension.

JASON KENNEY: It was seen as Obama’s Katrina moment. And I don’t think Obama helped with comments like “boot on the neck of BP,” and the aggressive tones that he took at that time.

But the political dimension remains. Congressman Ed Markey said Dudley’s speech showed that BP was still blaming everyone but itself.

CHIOTAKIS: Does this mean, Stephen, BP is pulling back from U.S. investments?

BEARD: No, the company has just sold four oil fields in the gulf but it is believed it would’ve done this anyway, even without the spill. In his speech, Dudley said BP is part of the American community. He said, “we’ll never quit the U.S.”

CHIOTAKIS: Marketplace’s Stephen Beard reporting to us from London. Stephen, thanks.

BEARD: OK, Steve.

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