Day 100: Embattled BP vows changes
Company looks to claim a $9.88b federal tax credit
NEW ORLEANS — One hundred days after the rig explosion that set off the worst offshore oil spill in US history, the oil company behind it is hoping to move beyond the losses, the gaffes, and the live video that ran for weeks of the busted well coughing up massive amounts of crude every second.
BP executives were asked Tuesday whether they had discussed the tax credit with US authorities. “We have followed the IRS regulations as they are currently written,’’ Hayward said.
Hayward will step down Oct. 1 with benefits valued at more than $18 million. BP is recommending him for a nonexecutive board position at its Russian joint venture, TNK-BP.
Hayward said he had been “demonized and vilified’’ but had no major regrets about his leadership. “Life isn’t fair,’’ he said, but he conceded that wasn’t the point. “BP cannot move on in the US with me as its leader.’’
The White House was not impressed.
“What’s not fair is what’s happened on the gulf,’’ Robert Gibbs, press secretary, said Tuesday. “What’s not fair is the actions of some have caused the greatest environmental disaster that our country has ever seen.’’
Dudley defended Hayward’s leadership but promised changes. “There’s no question we are going to learn things from this investigation of the incident,’’ he said.
The catastrophic mile-deep blowout April 20 killed 11 workers, spewed 94 million to 184 million gallons of oil, and sapped 35 percent, or $60 billion, of BP’s market value. The company struggled for months to stop the leak before temporarily capping it about two weeks ago. A permanent fix could be a few weeks away.
BP said it would become a leaner, higher-quality business through its planned sale of $30 billion in assets. The company has already made a start with the $7 billion sale of gas assets in the United States, Canada, and Egypt to
Analysts were disappointed that BP intended to sell so many assets. Oppenheimer & Co.’s Fadel Gheit said BP should be a 10 percent smaller company after its planned sales but should remain the top oil and gas producer in the United States, unless it sells off a large portion of its Alaska assets.
Analysts also said BP’s estimate of spill costs was on the conservative side. Gheit predicts BP will eventually pay between $30 billion and $60 billion.
Dudley pledged that his company will remain committed to the gulf region even after the well is sealed for good.
In a separate development yesterday, a national environmental group said beaches from Louisiana to the Florida Panhandle were closed or slapped with health warnings nearly 10 times more often this summer than last because of oil from the BP leak.
While many beaches were spared, more than 2,200 closings, health advisories, or notices were issued by state or local authorities through Tuesday because of oil from the spill. That compared with 237 closings and advisories in the same period last year, mainly due to bacteria or viruses in the water, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Its report said the spill affected 49 of 253 beach segments it monitors in Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida. Texas beaches have not had any advisories or closings so far.
There has been no clear downward trend in warnings or closings since the cap stopped crude from pouring into the sea, the group said. Oil remains in the water, and the incidence of beach landings goes up and down.
There is little distinction between closings and advisories because it’s up to each state to determine whether to close a beach or issue a health advisory for swimmers and beachgoers, according to the study.
Louisiana beaches were the hardest hit: 11 of the 28 monitored segments closed this year, with 793 combined days of closings, compared with 180 advisory days at this time last year.
In Alabama, there were 307 combined days of beach advisories, compared with no advisory days at this time last year. Florida had 16 of its 180 beaches in the western part of the Panhandle affected, resulting in 442 days of advisories. There were no advisories in the same period last year.
The organization typically studies bacteria and viruses at popular beaches. The health effects of oil can be similar: rashes, nausea, and stomach ailments, said the organization’s program director, David Beckman. Oil also poses long-term neurological and reproduction risks.
“The visual image of seeing oil on a beach or smelling that kind of industrial oil at a place that you go to escape from the city to enjoy nature is really an assault on the senses,’’ Beckman said.