Frustrated Gulf oil spill investigators in the US lashed out at BP over its refusal to explain who was in charge of safety at the DeepwaterHorizon rig.
“Everybody in charge, nobody in charge,” summed up Coast Guard Captain Hung Nguyen, after the co-chairman of the investigation board failed to obtain the answer he wanted during a grilling of high-ranking BP staff in Houston, Texas, yesterday.
Kent Wells, the oil giant’s senior vice president, countered that there was a company-wide safety culture in which “everyone is supposed to feel responsible”.
During the hearing, Mr Wells also skirted around the question of whether the drilling of relief wells would serve as a final plug to the leak, asgovernment officials insisted.
There were “multiple options” he said, adding that the relief wells would be “the ultimate back-up if everything else fails”.
The April 20 explosion at Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico killed 11 workers and led to the worst environmental disaster the region ever saw.
Since the accident, BP has come under prolonged attack in the US for perceived safety failings and its attitude towards the investigation.
In June, outgoing chief executive Tony Hayward received a relentless slating from US politicians during a session in which he was accused of”stone-walling”.
It was a theme taken up by the investigation panel yesterday.
Members appeared visibly frustrated by the answers given by Mr Wells in relation to BP’s safety set up.
Asked repeatedly if any one person had overall responsibility for safety, the BP senior vice president replied “our culture is meant thateveryone is supposed to feel responsible”.
Other high-level BP employees told the hearing that a major managerial shake-up just days before the blast led to confusion at the rig.