It was politics writ large today in the House Subcommittee on Energy and Commerce as BP CEO Tony Hayward, PhD was set before a phalanx of congressmen who all had on barbecue aprons that said “Kiss Me I’m the Chef.”
It was a veritable barrage of when did you know and how did you know it type questions aimed, the congressmen thought, at the guy at the top who knows, or should know, everything that went on.
And make no mistake, if Tony Hayward didn’t know what went on that fateful April day on the Deepwater Horizon, and he most assuredly didn’t, he definitely does now.
But it was a fine barbecue with Tony Hayward turning on the spit and congressmen applying liberal amounts of tomato-based sauce.
How many ways can you say “I don’t recall?” Hayward said them all. That was interspersed with claims that he is not an expert in the area of engineering. Hayward is a Geologist with a PhD degree. He came up through the ranks in the R&D arm of BP. His area of expertise, from what I can gather is sedimentation from an ophiolite complex in Turkey. His unpublished PhD dissertation’s title is this:
“Tertiary ophiolite-related sedimentation in SW Turkey”
He also authored several related paper on coral reefs, alluvial fans and marine deposits of similar systems, all in Turkey.
If the congressmen have any technical questions on Miocene clastic sedimentation in Turkey, Tony Hayward is their man.
Which is, believe it or not, my main point here.
Tony Hayward is BP America’s CEO. He has a lot of second-hand knowledge of what went on that day, but he is not an engineer. He is not, nor ever will be qualified to answer any of the congressmen’s technical questions. What he is qualified to answer for, aside from the Turkish Miocene, is what corporate culture separates BP from the rest of industry that allows them to be the worst safety violator in the oil and gas industry.
In short, what corporate culture caused a green “Company Man” who was on his first tour on an offshore oil rig to scream down the necks of the drillers that “it’s my way or the highway” as he made the ultimately fatal decision to change out the well’s heavy mud system with sea water.
That’s the guy these congressmen need to talk to. The guy who was there. The guy who made the decision fatal to eleven drillers.
Unfortunately, when the congressmen asked him, he pled the 5th.