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Republican Governor offers Haywood some comfort

Author : Paul Gay

08 June 2010

Haley Barbour is the republican governor of Mississippi, a state which has a Mexican Gulf coastline under threat from the oil spill, the worst in US history, which followed the explosion and subsequent sinking of the Deepwater Horizon rig on April 20. The governor has offered BP, the damaged oil well’s licence holder, and its beleaguered chief executive Tony Haywood some comfort by criticising the hype being whipped up by media reporting on the disaster.

Tony Haywood: Focused on the task in hand
Tony Haywood: Focused on the task in hand

The hysteria surrounding the leak, the governor suggested, was more damaging than the oil itself. "The truth is we have had virtually no oil," Barbour told Fox television. There is a natural seepage of oil into the Gulf of Mexico which turns up on the Mississippi coast line as tar balls. “We've had a few tar balls but we have a few every year," he added.

"The biggest negative impact for us has been the news coverage," he claimed, as reports gave the misleading impression that the entire coast from ‘Texas to Florida’ was ‘knee deep in oil’.

The Republican came as close as any elected politician has yet to arguing that the disaster was being exaggerated, at least in regard to his state, which admittedly has a smaller coastline than Louisiana, the closest state to origin of the spill at Macondo.

It is only fair to point out, however, that Governor Barbour is known as one of the most vocal pro-oil voices in US politics. He received almost $700,000 from oil and gas industries in his past two election campaigns and from 2000 to 2007, his lobbying firm was also paid $2 million for representing oil and gas interests.

Meanwhile back in the UK, Police have launched an operation to protect Hayward’s family after they had received threatening phone calls and hate mail. The family has also been targeted amid growing hostility towards BP in the US over the Gulf spill.

Sources from Kent Police have confirmed there was an ‘ongoing police operation’ involving the Hayward's family home but, understandably, did not disclose the details.

Hayward has been the face of BP during the first 50 days of the crisis and has worked tirelessly find a solution to the disaster. Several attempts have been made to stem the flow of leaking oil and at last a containment cap device, which was lowered onto the stricken well a mile below the sea on June 3, has started to collect oil and gas flowing from the well and transport them to a drillship on the surface. BP figures suggest that as much as three quarters of the oil spewing from the well is now being captured and transported to the surface. Optimisation of the system will continue and further improvements in the amount of oil collected are expected in the near future.

During television interviews over last weekend, the BP chief remained extremely focused on the task in hand, that of stopping the leak, cleaning the Gulf and compensating those damaged by this disaster. Despite scathing criticism from US President Obama and taunts from the US media, Hayward remains convinced BP can find a solution and make good the damage.

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