By OGJ editors
HOUSTON, June 19 – Controversy over the fatal Macondo well blowout and oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico took an abrasive turn June 18 when a partner in the well accused the operator of recklessness.
In a strongly worded press statement, Anadarko Petroleum Corp. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Jim Hackett, whose company holds a 25% interest in the ill-fated well, directly criticized BP, the operator.
“The mounting evidence clearly demonstrates that this tragedy was preventable and the direct result of BP's reckless decisions and actions,” Hackett said. “Frankly, we are shocked by the publicly available information that has been disclosed in recent investigations and during this week's testimony that, among other things, indicates BP operated unsafely and failed to monitor and react to several critical warning signs during the drilling of the Macondo well. BP's behavior and actions likely represent gross negligence or willful misconduct and thus affect the obligations of the parties under the operating agreement."
His statement came the day after BP Chief Executive Tony Hayward spent hours facing tough questions in a congressional hearing during which he apologized for the accident but didn’t respond to specific claims that BP took actions to cut costs that might have led to the blowout.
In a statement of its own, BP disputed Anadarko’s claims.
“Anadarko Petroleum Corp. has announced it is refusing to accept responsibility for oil spill removal costs and damages, claiming that, under an exception to a joint operating agreement’s cost and liability sharing provisions, BP Exploration & Production Inc. (BPXP) was ‘grossly negligent’ or engaged in ‘willful misconduct’ as operator for Mississippi Canyon Block 252,” the statement said. “BP strongly disagrees with these allegations and will not allow the allegations to diminish its commitment to the Gulf Coast region.”
Hayward, who after his congressional appearance was relieved of day-to-day involvement in the spill response, said, “Other parties besides BP may be responsible for costs and liabilities arising from their obligations.”
Anadarko Senior Vice-Pres., Finance, and Chief Financial Officer Robert Gwin referred to Hackett’s statement in a later June 18 statement responding to the downgrading of Anadarko long-term debt by Moody’s Investor Services.
"The action taken today by Moody's is very disappointing and surprising in light of Anadarko's limited role as a nonoperating investor in the Macondo well,” he said. Although we understand the concern over uncertainty surrounding the current situation, we believe it is too early in the process for Moody's to take this action. Further, our significant concerns about the behavior and actions of BP as operator of Macondo were highlighted by our Chairman and CEO in a statement issued earlier today."