“Don’t Worry” – be happy – that is Tony Hayward’s birthday message to his staff.
Hayward has returned home to London to chair a crisis board meeting, trying to give his staff an upbeat message.
Hayward has emailed staff saying that “I know that many of you have questions about how this incident will impact BP, your jobs, pensions, and our future plans.”
He argues that BP will come through the disaster “financially secure and stronger”.
But despite this, the problems against BP are stacking up:
Hayward is increasingly seen by his critics as living in a parallel bubble which is completely removed from the reality on the ground. His latest comments in Forbes magazine are that the company’s spill response has been “extraordinarily successful”.
His comments came as yet another Congressional hearing criticised BP and the American government over their response.
A month after the spill, it is totally and utterly amazing that we still do not know how much oil is being spilled. BP has still refused to give an accurate measurement of how much oil is leaking. Thre company is still refusing to allow scientists to send equipment to the ocean floor that would establish the rate with high accuracy.
“It seems baffling that we don’t know how much oil is being spilled,” Sylvia Earle, a famed oceanographer, told Congress yesterday.“It seems baffling that we don’t know where the oil is in the water column.”
The New York Times reports how Ian MacDonald of Florida State University, another oceanographer who was among the first to question the official estimate of 210,000 gallons a day, said he had come to the conclusion that BP was bent on obstructing any accurate calculation. “They want to hide the body,” he said.
The US administration is also under fire for not doing more to research the underwater plumes of oil, with no water quality samples released from the deep ocean.
Rick Steiner, a marine biologist and a veteran of the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster, said “A vast ecosystem is being exposed to contaminants right now, and nobody’s watching it. That seems to me like a catastrophic failure on the part of NOAA.”
Hayward’s comments would have stuck in the back of the throat of Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana who has criticised the company and Federal government after sheets of heavy crude oil had been found to have seeped deep into the delicate marshes around the mouth of the Mississippi River.
“These are not tar balls, this is not sheen, this is heavy oil,” Mr. Jindal told reporters on a pier. “What we are seeing yesterday and today is literally this heavy oil coming into our wetlands.”
BP is also is facing the shutdown of another field in the Gulf of Mexico – the Atlantis. A former BP PLC contractor and a Washington, DC, nonprofit group have now asked a US District Court in Houston to issue a temporary injunction stopping the Atlantis platform.
American politicians are also pressing for an “immediate shutdown” of the platform until regulators can guarantee it is operating safely. The US Minerals Management Service is investigating claims that Atlantis lacks key engineering safety documentation — an allegation that BP denies.
Finally Hayward’s Birthday smile will be wiped off his face by the sight of two Greenpeace protestors who are currently hanging off the front of BP’s building with the message “British Polluter”.
One of the climbers, Ben Stewart, 36, from north London, said: “Under Tony Hayward’s leadership BP has taken huge risks to pump oil from ever more remote places, while slashing investment in the clean energy projects that could actually help reduce our dependence on oil and beat climate change.”
Greenpeace has also launched a groundbreaking new competition which invites designers and industry experts, as well as members of the public, to redesign BP’s logo to “better reflect the company’s operations abroad.”
Greenpeace says the winning logo will be used in ‘innovative and confrontational’ ways as part of an ongoing international campaign against the oil company. For more information go here.
Inside the building, Hayward will be telling staff… don’t worry about Greenpeace – be happy…