BP CEO Tony Hayward has faced fresh
criticism for taking time off to go sailing with his son instead of dealing
with the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
The White House said the move was
one of a “long line of PR gaffes and mistakes” by Mr Hayward.
Environmental groups said the Isle
of Wight outing was “insulting” to those affected by the environmental
BP defended Mr Hayward, saying it
was his first day off since the spill began after a deadly rig blast on 20
Mr Hayward spent the day with his
son at the JP Morgan Asset Management Round The Island Race, where boats race
around the Isle of Wight, off the coast of southern England.
He was later spotted by
photographers on his $270,000 (£182,000) Farr 52 racing yacht, “Bob”, at the
White House Chief of Staff Rahm
Emanuel said the boating incident has “just been part of a long line of PR
gaffes and mistakes”.
“To quote Tony Hayward, he’s got
his life back,” added Mr Emanuel, referring to an earlier comment by Mr
“I think we can all conclude that
Tony Hayward is not going to have a second career in PR consulting,” he told
ABC’s This Week programme, in an interview to be broadcast later on Sunday.
Greenpeace campaigner Charlie
Kronick described the boating trip as “insulting… rubbing salt into the
wounds” of those who had been affected by the spill.
Residents in coastal states
affected by the spill also rebuked the oil executive.
“Man, that ain’t right,” said Bobby
Pitre, 33, who runs a tattoo shop in Larose in Louisiana. “None of us can even
go out fishing, and he’s at the yacht races.
“I wish we could get a day off from
the oil, too,” Mr Pitre told AP news agency.
And 59-year old Raymond Canevari,
an artist from Florida, said Mr Hayward did not “have the right to have free
time at all” until the crisis was resolved.
But BP spokesman Robert Wine
defended Mr Hayward’s move, and said it was the first break that Mr Hayward has
had since the spill began.
“He’s spending a few hours with his
family at the weekend,” he said.
“I’m sure that everyone would
Meanwhile, BP announced that it has
already paid out $104 million (£70m) to residents along the Gulf Coast for
claims filed as a result of the disaster.
“Our focus has been on getting
money into the hands of fishermen, shrimpers, condo owners and others who have
not been able to earn income due to the spill,” said Darryl Willis, from the BP
BP has agreed to put aside $20bn to
compensate victims of the oil spill.
Earlier this week, the company said
that Mr Hayward was handing over day-to-day management of the response to BP
managing director Bob Dudley.
Thousands of barrels of oil are
still leaking into the Gulf in what many are calling the worst environmental
disaster in US history.
A containment cap and
another device are capturing some 25,000 barrels of oil a day, but the latest
estimates suggest 35,000-60,000 barrels a day are spewing out.