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Hayward goes but was Macondo that bad?

Author : Paul Gay

03 August 2010

Tony Hayward is standing down as chief executive officer of BP and out of the limelight. He has courageously taken the responsibility for the tragic accident that caused the Macondo oil spill and in his own way is paying for part of the cost of the disaster when he has done little wrong.

Hayward's shared yacht heads off around the Isle of Wight
Hayward's shared yacht heads off around the Isle of Wight

And now it appears that after only two weeks of the stricken well head being capped and the spewing oil being contained, the catastrophe has eased. Indeed, if there was a Beaufort scale for oil spills, the Macondo disaster has probably diminished from a hurricane force 12 to a fresh breeze force 5 and Hayward knows how good it feels to sail a 52 foot yacht in a force 5. One of his alleged public relations gaffs involved a boat race around the Isle of Wight when US President Obama thought he was meant to be working.

It’s been one hundred days since the original blow-out and that has meant a massive amount of oil spilled into the Mexican Gulf. The spill is probably between 140 and 200 million gallons – the equivalent of about four super tankers of oil. The scale of the potential environmental damage may have been exaggerated and the unfortunate Mr Hayward could have been right when he predicted that the impact would be ‘very, very modest’.

But he would say that, I hear you say. And that indeed was part of the inept public relations speak that Hayward was undoubtedly advised to put out. For you can well believe that the chief executive of Britain’s largest corporation would have had a team of PR advisors at every stage.

Since the fury of the disaster has waned, many marine scientists are now thinking, the cataclysm that was Macondo was really not that catastrophic. One expert has suggested that it is the type of oil and where it happens that matters. One ton of spilled oil in a mangrove is more damaging than 100 tons on a beach, which is more damaging than 10,000 tons in the open sea.

The fact that the spill was of light crude oil and that the disaster happened in warm waters so far out to sea has meant that the problem would be dispersed quickly. The Gulf has also suffered much natural seepage into its waters over the years and has developed microbes to break down the oil.

So when Hayward said it was a drop in the ocean, he might have been poorly advised but he could have been close to the truth. This spill is perhaps the equivalent of less than a drop in an Olympic-sized swimming pool and for all but a tiny bit of the Gulf, it will be back to normal within a year.

But Hayward has taken the wrap. And for those who say he should not get his pension, please consider that he worked hard and well for BP for nearly 30 years and led the company since 2007. His severance arrangement is equivalent to one year’s salary, quite normal for a chief executive, and the pension he will receive when he qualifies at the age of 55 will have been earned over the past three decades and is in proportion to the payments made over his long career.



READER'S VIEW

From: Mandy Wardall
Financial Controller, Automated Water & Effluent Ltd

I totally agree with your article, but I want to know if anything is being done to find out who is responsible for the original explosion, and whether the criticisms dished out by President Obama should be less or more aimed at the British?
 



From:
Christine Hogg (Mrs)
Director, CAMS Fire & Security plc

Tony Hayward certainly deserves his pension.  I could not understand why BP did not have a PR Department to deal with the media then Tony Hayward would not have been the one involved in the witch hunt.

I am still waiting the outcome of investigations into the Macondo Oil Well disaster, the cause of everything.  I hear nothing about the families of the 11 fatalities coming forward for compensation.  I hear nothing from the Swiss who apparently built the oil well.  I hear nothing from the American staff that maintained the oil well under American regulations.  All I hear is how Tony Hayward spent some of his private life sailing on a yacht.

I understand that once Macondo Well has been capped this will be among thousands of other wellheads in the area that are left to deteriorate and when these get struck by vessels emit gases and oil to contaminate the water and marshes which apparently no one worries about.

If the Americans did not use so much oil there would not be such a problem.



From: Victoria Newman
Standards & Compliance Engineer, Ransomes Jacobsen

I would like to say I agree completely with every word you wrote, not only has this very diligent and experienced employee of BP been made a scapegoat, he has effectively been hounded out of his job. He is in no way, shape or form to blame for this tragic event and yet BP pushed him to the forefront and then scarpered!

I do hope some of his inept PR team are also paying with their jobs.

Whether people like it or not Tony Hayward has paid into his pension for thirty years and after this episode I believe he deserves every penny and a long and happy retirement.

I also hope he doesn’t retire, I’m certain there are many companies that could benefit from his experience as CEO, let’s just hope the oil doesn’t stick and he’s allowed to get on with his life.








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