LONDON — BP PLC’s new chief executive, Bob Dudley, launched a feisty defense of his company’s response to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill this year, accusing the media and some people in the oil industry of fear-mongering and a “rush to judgment” that exacerbated the crisis.
Mr. Dudley also reaffirmed that BP won’t quit its businesses in the U.S. and intends to keep drilling in deep water in the Gulf of Mexico despite the damage to its reputation.
BP’s new boss used his first speech on the company’s home soil to push back at the incessant criticism that has rained on the British oil giant since the oil well in the Gulf exploded six months ago. His comments came a few weeks after the well was finally capped for good, and just ahead of U.S. elections that could reshape a Congress that was sharply critical of BP and its top executives.
While admitting BP’s mistakes, Mr. Dudley went on the offensive, saying he was shocked by the “protracted media and political firestorm” BP ignited, which at its height “threatened the very existence of our company.”
There was “a great rush to judgment by a fair number of observers before the full facts could possibly be known,” said Mr. Dudley, who is an American. “I watched graphic projections of oil swirling around the Gulf, around Florida, across and around Bermuda to England,” he said, none of which came to pass.
Smooth move, Dudley. It’s not like Dems in Congress aren’t looking for an excuse to drag you in front of Congress:
One U.S. lawmaker expressed anger at Mr. Dudley’s speech, and his refusal to appear at a congressional hearing to discuss the spill.
“The American people were told that as CEO, Bob Dudley would change BP’s attitudes and practices,” said Rep. Edward Markey (D., Mass.), who had requested that the CEO appear before his Energy and Environment Subcommittee. “Yet BP is continuing to point the finger at everyone but themselves. Since this disaster began, BP has stood for ‘Blame Passed.’”
BP spokesman Andrew Gowers denied BP had changed its stance on the disaster. He pointed out that Mr. Dudley had underscored BP’s regret for what happened and its determination to learn the lessons of Deepwater Horizon.