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Daily View: Reaction to BP's report on spill

Clare Spencer | 09:28 UK time, Thursday, 9 September 2010

Deepwater Horizon ablaze in the Gulf of Mexico. 21 April 2010

Commentators react to the BP report into the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico which spreads the blame between BP and two other companies.

The Times has been keeping a close eye on [subscription required] BP's chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg who it says again failed to step up:

"Carl-Henric Svanberg, the chairman, once again declined to accept his role as the company's figurehead. Mr Svanberg has hidden in the shadows, while he persisted in using Tony Hayward, the chief executive, as the company's public face. When the disaster was at its peak, Mr Svanberg only reluctantly deigned to break his holiday in Thailand. Yesterday, once again, he was conspicuous by his absence. Instead, he sent out a group of technical experts who began the briefing by announcing that the question of blame was beyond their remit."

The Guardian editorial says the report reveals a world where "optimism and best-case scenarios were usually preferred over rigorous tests and evaluation of results":

"The curious effect of all this blame-shifting is that it provides the reader with a rare peek into the workings of the offshore-drilling industry - and a very ugly sight it is too. Oil multinationals working so far from the coastline are not normally subject to this much scrutiny; and yet over the course of the report, it becomes clear how many things went wrong with the establishment and operation of the Deepwater rig. BP and the companies working for it are among the best in the business: just imagine how the cowboy outfits behave."
The Telegraph editorial sticks up for BP, saying lessons must be learnt instead of accusations thrown and even finds some, what it calls, positive news:

"[T]he design of the well does not seem to have been at fault, suggesting that BP's controversial move into deep-water drilling was not of itself a contributory factor. That will be welcomed by the many countries that are increasingly dependent on such supplies. The real lesson is that there will always be accidents in such a dangerous occupation; but it is unacceptable that they should occur when systems are supposedly in place to prevent them."

The Economist says there is strong motivation for BP not to find themselves at fault:

"The stakes here are high. If BP is found to have been grossly negligent in its role as operator the fines it faces would increase by billions, and its chances of recouping money from its junior partners in the project, Anadarko and Mitsui, would be badly damaged. On the basis of this report, hardly the last word, such a finding seems unlikely. The likelihood of protracted suits and countersuits between the companies involved, though, remains high, with damage to the reputations of all of them."

Jed Lewison at the Daily Kos argues that this report is for the lawyers:

"BP's report was prepared by a team of about 50 people, most of them BP employees. More than anything else, its goal appears to have been pointing the finger towards contractors, like Transocean, for culpability. BP's intention is not so much to get them off the hook in the court of public opinion, but rather to strengthen their case before a court of law."

The Express uses the report to bring back up the debate about whether this was a British disaster:

"President Barack Obama was quick to blame BP (or British Petroleum as he ignorantly persisted in calling it) for the gulf of Mexico oil leak. But now a report says no single factor caused the Deepwater horizon explosion and that other companies involved must take a share of the blame."

Links in full

Times | Shifting the blame
Guardian | Deepwater explosion: BP shifts the blame
Telegraph | Deepwater lessons
Economist | The case for the defence
Jed Lewison | Daily Kos | This one's for the lawyers
Express | Obama so wrong on BP

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