THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING

BP chief cites ‘rush’ to blame for Gulf spill

Oil floated off the coast of Louisiana in May. BP’s Bob Dudley said many parties were quick to blame BP for the Gulf of Mexico spill before all the facts were known. Oil floated off the coast of Louisiana in May. BP’s Bob Dudley said many parties were quick to blame BP for the Gulf of Mexico spill before all the facts were known. (Sean Gardner/ Reuters/ File 2010)
By Jane Wardell
Associated Press / October 26, 2010

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LONDON — BP chief executive Bob Dudley accused some politicians and the media yesterday of being too hasty to pin all the blame on his company for the devastating Gulf of Mexico spill — and emphasized the need for deep-water drilling.

In his first major public speech since taking the top job, Dudley also said BP would not pull out of the United States — and that the United States needs a company with BP’s resources to meet its vast energy needs.

Dudley delivered a speech whose mood hovered between firm and penitent, seeking to make clear that BP was learning every lesson possible from the disaster. He stressed that he also has met with specialists from other hazardous industries, including the nuclear and chemical industries, as part of the company’s focus on improving safety.

“We were certainly not perfect in our response, but we have tried to do the right thing,’’ Dudley added. Before becoming the first American to lead the British oil company on Oct. 1, Dudley was in charge of BP’s spill response efforts in the Gulf.

US lawmakers have widely blamed BP for the disaster.

Yesterday, Dudley said many parties, including the media and rival oil companies, were guilty of “a great rush to judgment’’ before all the facts were known.

“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.

The company’s own investigation shared the blame between BP, rig owner Transocean Ltd., and contractor Halliburton Co.

But former EPA administrator William K. Reilly, cochairman of an independent oil spill commission investigating the rig explosion, suggested yesterday that BP fed the fear and mistrust by initially minimizing the impact of the spill.

In an interview with the Associated Press in New Orleans, Reilly said the company shouldn’t downplay the significance of “what occurred and what happened on their watch and what was their responsibility to prevent.’’

The US government could fine BP up to $21 billion for the spill, on top of a $20 billion disaster fund that the company has committed itself to. BP continues to make plans for further drilling projects in the Gulf of Mexico. Rig owner Pride International Inc. said BP has leased two of its deep-water rigs. One of those rigs is already in the Gulf and another is on its way. Pride spokeswoman Kate Perez said it’s unclear what projects are in store for those rigs — they still could be moved out of the Gulf.

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