BP boss: Deep-sea drilling must go on

2011-04-19 15:03
Stockholm - BP never considered abandoning deep-sea drilling after the disastrous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico last year, the company's chairperson told a Swedish newspaper in an interview published on Tuesday.

Despite the risks of such operations, Carl-Henric Svanberg said halting them "doesn't feel like a logical conclusion" after the Deepwater Horizon blowout because "50 000 holes have been drilled in the Gulf of Mexico and this was the first time things went this wrong".

Svanberg told newspaper Svenska Dagbladet that the company now needs to focus hard on safety.

"It's like with an airline. If you've had one accident you can't have another one, you need to keep a rock-solid focus on safety. But this is an industry that always will involve risk," he was quoted as saying.

Svanberg said BP now is about halfway through the process of handling the demands from residents in the Gulf, where oystermen were made redundant, hotels left empty and fears are growing that the underwater ecosystem was badly disrupted by the 780 million litres of oil the US government says gushed from the blown-out well.

"It is a burdensome road to regain the trust of the American people. The US is one of the countries re-acting the loudest when something happens, but maybe also the fastest country to note when someone performs well," Svanberg said.

The chairperson, who was criticised for his soft response to the spill, defended his role saying he had talked to "shareholders, ambassadors, Brussels, our board members, people in the Gulf".

"It felt a little bit like standing and screaming in the midst of a hurricane," he said. "Today's media world is so fragmented and everyone is trying to get their message out. The ambition that it should always be right is not the same as when I grew up."

He acknowledged BP struggled with its finances last year when failed attempts to stop the leak closed the door for the company to the short-term lending market, but that the meeting with Obama in Washington became the turning point.

- AP
Read more on:    bp  |  us  |  us oil slick
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