BP’s Hayward is ‘deeply sorry’ for spill, defends response

BP CEO Tony Hayward will tell a House panel Thursday morning that the massive Gulf of Mexico oil spill should never have happened while defending the depth and transparency of the embattled company’s response to the disaster.

“The explosion and fire aboard the Deepwater Horizon and the resulting oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico never should have happened ─ and I am deeply sorry that they did,” Hayward states in testimony prepared for a House Energy and Commerce Committee panel.

“None of us yet knows why it happened. But whatever the cause, we at BP will do what we can to make certain that an incident like this does not happen again,” he adds.

Hayward also said “nothing is being spared” in the response effort, citing what he calls an expansive operation that involves coordination with the federal government and experts from other companies and academia, among other parties.

“Some of the best minds and the deepest expertise are being brought to bear. With the possible exception of the space program in the 1960s, it is difficult to imagine the gathering of a larger, more technically proficient team in one place in peacetime,” Hayward said.

Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) — who heads the Oversight and Investigations subcommittee that’s holding the hearing — and Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) say that BP took shortcuts for economic reasons that increased the risk of a catastrophic well blowout.

Hayward, however, notes that federal and internal investigations remain under way into the April 20 well failure that led to the ongoing spill. He said the company’s internal review is focusing on several issues surrounding the well casing and failure of the blowout preventer, which is supposed to be a failsafe.

“I understand people want a simple answer about why this happened and who is to blame. The truth, however, is that this is a complex accident, caused by an unprecedented combination of failures,” Hayward said. “A number of companies are involved, including BP, and it is simply too early to understand the cause. There is still extensive work to do.”

Hayward also acknowledges that the spill has revealed a need for better industry preparations for subsea disasters and better safety technology.

Hayward is testifying one day after his company announced it would suspend dividend payments for the rest of the year and create a $20 billion escrow fund for damages.