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The Tony Hayward Fail
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Before Tony Hayward, the CEO of BP, appeared before Congress on Thursday over the whole issue of the oil spill, I was willing to give BP the benefit of the doubt. First of all, I can't even begin to imagine exactly how complex an oil spill of this magnitude could possibly be, to figure it all out as to what you do with it. I mean, there's a ton of pressure down there to try and plug up, and getting the oil cleaned up that has already spewed out at nearly 50,000-60,000 barrels a day, for the last two months, has got to be one hell of a daunting task. It's one I certainly would not want on my plate. And it's not something I ever thought for a second could be dealt with rapidly as it all was unfolding. This is a huge problem.
So yes. I was willing to take BP at their word that everything they could possibly do was being done. That what led to the explosion, and the spill was all a tragic and unfortunate event. An act of the gods, if you will. I was even willing to cut President Obama a little bit of slack as well on this thing. After all, he can't suck the oil through a straw, now can he? When issues like this come up people have to be reasonable about what can really be done, and how soon things can get done.
Hey, don't get me wrong. I'm as much of an armchair quarterback as anyone.
But again, all this positive sentiment was before CEO Tony Hayward appeared before Congress. The guy was being as evasive as anyone can possibly be. He wouldn't answer a single question with any real substance. As far as I am concerned, his appearance before Congress was a waste of time—though, for me, very telling of something just below the surface that's not right.
So it has become my opinion that BP was complicit in all things that ultimately led to the explosion on the rig. I also think that Tony Hayward is absolutely hiding something. The constant replies to Congress' questions that he didn't know, or that he was out of the loop, or that he wasn't there just, to me, seems very suspicious. I'm not saying he's likely an evil man—he's just trying to cover his ass. He's in defense mode.
Here we go again where we've got a guy sitting in the top executive chair, earning millions of dollars every year, who knows nothing about what's going on in his company? Come on. Really? I'm inclined to believe that if you were to have asked Tony Hayward's janitor while this well was being built, he could have offered up more information about what was going on. No one passed in the halls and asked, "Hey, where are we at with this well in the Gulf?" This is a multi-million dollar building project that was the result of millions of dollars of exploration before the discovery, and would result in billions of dollars of revenue for the company once the rig was in full swing, and Tony Hayward was not in the know throughout the well's progress?
Maybe I can believe that. Okay fine. It's quite possible that Tony Hayward just gets to play with the telephones in the big office, and zooms around the floor in his big leather chair making engine noises with his mouth.
The big kicker is what happens when the evidence is smacking you in the face that decisions were made in the interest of saving time and money, and you still are unable to own up to it. Document after document showed clearly that decisions were made that took into consideration how much time it would take to incorporate recommendations to make the well safe, and how much it would cost. Putting in 6 centralizers, for example, instead of the 21 that were recommended.
Hayward knows damn well BP was concerned about profits, and they wanted to get this well done. It was already 45 days late, and one recommendation would have taken 10 days to have the parts shipped. I would have liked to have seen a little bit of English fire from the man. I would have liked to have heard him say, "If the findings of our investigation determine that any BP employee put cost considerations before safety, heads will roll." I would have liked to have heard him say, "I am going to personally meet with all of the parties who were involved with the decision making process on that rig to determine where their minds were at at the time they made the decisions, and to determine what influences may have been at work to push them to make decisions that may have been for cost savings reasons."
This would have been far more productive than "I wasn't there," and "I was not a part of the decisions that were made."
This is your company. You are the boss. It is your job and your responsibility to take immediate action, and find out what went wrong when 11 people are belly up in the water, and emails are floating around saying things like, "Who cares. It's done." If I were the CEO I'd have everyone involved on a plane and in my boardroom.
By his account before Congress, Tony Hayward was removed then from the rig, the well, and the decisions that were made during its construction, and he is as removed now. He knows no more about the who's, the what's, or the why's than he knew the day the telephone rang and someone said to him, "Tony, we've got a bit of a problem here."
Amazingly the stock ticked up today. Apparently Wall Street admired Tony's little show. I'm not in that camp. My mind has been changed by the responses Tony Hayward gave to Congress, and frankly to the American people. I'm appalled by the lack of real concern, and the lack of any real effort to get to the bottom of what happened. It doesn't seem to be his first priority, even if he said it is, because if it were then 60 days after the well burst, he ought to know a whole hell of a lot about things. Amazingly, he couldn't even concede that BP was not operating in a culture of safety, even though his company had been cited for 760 safety violations while all of his other competitors during the same time period had between 2 and 8 violations? Some things are just a little bit common sense, or they should be. That isn't rocket science. Did anyone check that business degree on his wall in his office to see if it was printed on his computer?
The long and short is that anything I thought in favor of BP before is now out the window. The company is guilty. Tony Hayward is guilty. The company operated in a manner that cost lives absolutely because it put profits before safety. I think that Tony Hayward should be fired immediately. As for the hearing before Congress? It was an epic fail if ever there was one.
For now, I will not be pumping up at a BP station.