Watch live: BP CEO testifies before House
Earlier today, via AFP:
BP boss Tony Hayward was to face a flaying by furious US lawmakers Thursday and tell them he was “personally devastated” by the Gulf of Mexico spill, blaming it on a series of unprecedented disasters.
Some lawmakers have publicly suggested senior BP officials should “commit hara-kiri,” after Hayward and BP Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg were summoned to the White House on Wednesday for talks with President Barack Obama.
In his first appearance in Congress since the catastrophe erupted in April, Hayward was to tell lawmakers the blast which ripped through the Deepwater Horizon rig triggering the blow-out was virtually impossible to predict.
“I understand people want a simple answer about why this happened and who is to blame,” BP’s chief executive said in his prepared testimony.
“The truth, however, is that this is a complex accident, caused by an unprecedented combination of failures.”
He was appearing before a Congress committee a day after the British energy giant pledged to set aside some 20 billion dollars over the next four years to meet claims arising from the nation’s worst ever environmental disaster.
In addition to the special fund, BP bosses also announced after the White House talks that the firm would halt shareholder dividends this year.
And Hayward, who has been sharply criticized in America as BP’s public face of the disaster, was likely to face a barrage of angry questions from lawmakers.
Obama has already said that had Hayward been working for the US administration, he would have been fired by now.
But Louisiana Representative Joseph Caotold told one of Hayward’s colleagues at hearings earlier this week that even resignations from BP officials would not be sufficient to placate him.
“In the Asian culture we do things differently. During the samurai days, we just give you a knife and ask to you commit hara-kiri,” he said.
News of the escrow fund deal with the US administration sent BP’s share price soaring almost 10 percent on Thursday, after days of falls.