BP boss defends company against Obama's attack

The US President calls for those behind the Gulf of Mexico oil spill to take full responsibility

Tony Hayward, the beleaguered boss of BP, was fighting a rearguard action yesterday after furious criticism from the US President Barack Obama, who accused BP of trying to pass the buck over the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster.

The BP chief executive had claimed the spill – which could yet end up as the biggest in the history of offshore exploration – was "tiny" by comparison with the amount of water in the area. Yesterday he insisted that it will not stop deep water oil exploration "in the same way as Apollo 13 did not stop the space programme, nor have serious airline accidents from time to time stopped people flying".

His comments came after President Obama attacked the "ridiculous spectacle" of BP and other oil companies failing to take responsibility during recent congressional hearings into the disaster. Speaking on Friday, Mr Obama said: "I will not tolerate more finger-pointing or irresponsibility... there is enough responsibility to go around. And all parties should be willing to accept it."

The President vowed: "I'm not going to rest or be satisfied until the leak is stopped at the source, the oil in the Gulf is contained and cleaned up, and the people of the Gulf are able to go back to their lives and their livelihoods."

Mr Hayward is under a fierce attack from campaigners who say his days must be numbered. Speaking to The Independent on Sunday yesterday, John Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace, said: "His job is on the line. I've never seen the head of an international company come under such a sustained attack from the President of the United States. The buck stops with him and he can duck and weave as much as he wants, but he's not going to get away with it." Mr Hayward described the environmental catastrophe as a "transforming event" that would result in significant changes to the oil industry.

Thousands of barrels of oil a day have been gushing from a seabed well since the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded on 20 April, killing 11 workers. With a relentless stream of into the sea from a broken pipe nearly a mile below the surface, the spill has now grown to cover some 3,650 square miles of ocean.

BP technicians are racing against time in their latest efforts to stem the flow of oil, trying to use remote controlled robots to guide a mile-long tube into the breached well. If successful, this would allow them to funnel leaking oil up to a container vessel on the surface.

BP's chief executive admitted that there might be no immediate prospect of an end to the outflow, which has already resulted in estimates of between 210,000 gallons and 2.9 million gallons of oil a day escaping into waters off the US coastline. He said that, at best, the oil leak could be stopped in a week to 10 days, but that the worst case scenario was "more than that, and it's impossible to say how much more".

Mr Hayward did not mention that BP has given testimony to the US Congress that at worst, 60,000 barrels of oil a day could be lost, equivalent to a spill the size of the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster every four days.

Responding to President Obama's condemnation of the "cosy relationship" between oil companies and regulators, he said: "The regulatory regime for the deep water offshore in the US is very rigorous – more rigorous than many other regimes – and the industry has had a very good track record."

He added that he had "no intention" of resigning, and said that no conclusions about responsibility for the disaster should be drawn until a formal investigation was completed.

Under fire

A British geologist who has been with BP for 28 years, Tony Hayward has tried to clean up a legacy of law suits arising from a major refinery fire in Texas and an oil spill in Alaska, since succeeding Lord Browne as chief executive in 2007. Here are some of the other controversies he has been embroiled in:

2007 Signalled his intention to abandon the "Beyond Petroleum" mantra of his predecessor in a speech at Stanford University in which he said too many people at BP were "trying to save the world".

2008 Called for the Arctic and other areas to be opened up for oil exploration.

2009 Came under fire from environmentalists over BP's membership of the American Petroleum Institute (API) – which lobbied against Barack Obama's energy and climate change bill.

2010 Said BP will press ahead with its controversial tar sands project in Canada, condemned as "dirty oil" by environmentalists that claim it produces far more greenhouse gases than normal oil extraction, and results in large amounts of toxic waste.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Extras
indybest
Travel
Flocking round: Beyoncé, Madame Tussauds' latest waxwork, looking fierce in the park
travelIn a digital age when we have more access than ever to the stars, why are waxworks still pulling in crowds?
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench appeared at the Hay Festival to perform excerpts from Shakespearean plays
tvJudi Dench and Hugh Bonneville join Benedict Cumberbatch in BBC Shakespeare adaptations
Sport
Is this how Mario Balotelli will cruise into Liverpool?
football
News
Ronahi Serhat, a PKK fighter, in the Qandil Mountains in Iraqi Kurdistan
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Poet’s corner: Philip Larkin at the venetian window of his home in 1958
booksOr caring, playful man who lived for others? A new book has the answer
Arts and Entertainment
Exhibition at the Centre Pompidou in Metz - 23 May 2012
art
News
Matthew McConaughey and his son Levi at the game between the Boston Red Sox and the Houston Astros at Fenway Park on August 17, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts.
advertisingOscar-winner’s Lincoln deal is latest in a lucrative ad production line
Arts and Entertainment
Alfred Molina, left, and John Lithgow in a scene from 'Love Is Strange'
film
News
i100
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost, Data Mining

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost...

Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Support, Help desk)

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Su...

Junior Quant Analyst (Machine Learning, SQL, Brokerage)

£30000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst (Machine Lea...

UNIX Application Support Analyst- Support, UNIX, London

£45000 - £55000 per annum: Harrington Starr: UNIX Application Support Analyst-...

Day In a Page

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention