Sunday 26 February 2017

BP training concerns emerge as Hayward faces MPs

Fire boat response crews battle the blazing remnants of the off shore oil rig Deepwater Horizon. Photo: Getty Images
Fire boat response crews battle the blazing remnants of the off shore oil rig Deepwater Horizon. Photo: Getty Images

Embattled BP boss Tony Hayward is appearing before a Commons select committee in the UK today as it emerged concerns had been raised over the firm's oil spill response training.

The outgoing chief executive will give evidence to the Energy and Climate Change Committee, which is investigating the implications of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill for offshore drilling in the UK.

The parliamentary committee is looking at whether the UK regime is fit for purpose and the risks of drilling off the coast of Scotland, amid fears a spill could occur in UK waters.

His appearance, his first in the UK since the Deepwater Horizon disaster, comes as it was revealed that inspections on BP's North Sea installations found a number of them did not comply with guidelines over regular training for offshore operators on how to respond to an incident.

Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) inspectors also found the firm had not conducted oil spill exercises properly at some of its offshore sites. BP said it has now addressed all the issues.

A spokesman said: "DECC raised a valid issue with us regarding oil spill response training and the frequency of training exercises.

"The small number of personnel who had not undergone refresher training have now been brought up to date and we are fully compliant with this part of the regulations.

"Regarding oil spill exercises, we regularly test our oil spill response plans, involving teams onshore and offshore.

"The DECC points related to the required frequency of offshore oil spill response exercises and to the particular way in which DECC required us to record those exercises. These points have now been clarified and we are fully compliant with the regulations."

Mr Hayward has been at the centre of the storm over offshore drilling since the explosion on BP's Deepwater Horizon rig in April, which killed 11 workers and left millions of gallons of oil gushing into the Gulf.

The committee appearance follows a fiery session of the US House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee in June, where he was accused of ignoring safety warnings, attempting to shirk responsibility and presiding over "astonishing" corporate complacency.

In July, BP announced Mr Hayward was stepping down as chief executive on October 1, to be replaced by American Bob Dudley, as it revealed the bill for the disaster stood at £20bn.

An internal investigation by BP into the reasons for the explosion blamed a "complex and interlinked" series of events involving mechanical failures and human judgments.

The probe by the oil giant, led by the company's head of safety and operations, Mark Bly, found BP was responsible in part for the tragedy, but also placed some blame on rig owner Transocean and cement contractor Halliburton.

Last week oil and gas industry leaders in the UK insisted there was "no case" for a moratorium on offshore drilling in deep water here in the wake of the Gulf of Mexico disaster.

They told the Energy and Climate Change Committee that the regulatory regime in the UK is "very, very strong".

Press Association

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