BP exec blasts rivals, media

BP’s
new chief executive said its rivals and the media had helped cause a climate of
fear during the summer when the oil giant’s blown-out Gulf of Mexico well
caused the worst ever oil spill in the United States.

The
comments represented the latest volley in BP’s battle to rebuild its battered
reputation by taking a harder line with those who have blamed the disaster on a
safety culture at BP that, they said, put cost-saving before safety.

Bob
Dudley said there had been: “A great rush to judgment by a fair number of
observers before the full facts could possibly be known, even from some in our
industry.

“I
watched graphic projections of oil swirling around the gulf, around Florida,
across and around Bermuda to England — these appeared authoritative and
inevitable. The public fear was everywhere,” he said.

BP
said in late July that Dudley would take over as chief executive on 1 October,
succeeding Tony Hayward who had come under fire for his handling of the oil
spill.

Dudley’s
comments on echoed those he made early in the 87-day crisis during a television
interview, when he said scientists who argued the well was gushing up to 70,000
barrels per day (bpd) were “scaremongering.”

At
the time, Dudley said the “best estimate” of the flow rate was 5,000
bpd.

A
government panel later put the flow rate at 62,000 bpd.

BP’s
rivals including Chevron, Exxon Mobil, and Royal Dutch Shell, have said they
would not have drilled the blown-out well the way BP did.

The
companies have also rankled at BP’s argument that the disaster highlighted
failures in the industry, rather than flaws specific to BP.

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