"I'm afraid I can't answer that question;" or "I'm not involved in the decision-making process;" and "It's too early to draw conclusions," were the responses from the BP CEO to any question about what went wrong with the Macondo well.
"I'm not a drilling engineer;" "I'm not a cement engineer;" "I'm not a technically qualified engineer in these matters" were among the positions that we learned Tony Hayward was not qualified for in being CEO of a major oil company, and all his professional deficiencies conveniently made it impossible, and legally logical, for Hayward to be evasive, and nothing but evasive, in his answers.
In the least, the creation of a Sarbanes-Oxley section 302 for deepwater drilling would save us all from the embarrassment of having to endure another seven hours of Congressional testimony during which absolutely nothing is learned. Strike that last comment. We did learn one thing.
While Hayward's testimony has already been filed away by the cynics as the typical outcome of pointless Capitol Hill political theater, Hayward provided us with the most important answer of all: his non-answers show us the glaring need for oil company CEOs to be on the deepwater rig and peering down into its well legally, even if they can't be there physically.We're going to be debating the ultimate fail-safe of the blowout preventer for some time to come -- the latest report in today's New York Times shows that the blowout preventer is less than the "ultimate" fail-safe that the oil industry would believe protects us from oil spill disasters. This point came up at the closing of Hayward's testimony last week also, when he was challenged over his assertion that the blowout preventer needs to be overhauled, but remains the best option as a fail-safe for the offshore drilling. The Times report also made clear in painful detail the lapses in regulatory oversight provided by the Minerals Management Service of the Interior Department, which failed to enforce its own recommendations related to some of the risks associated with blowout preventers. A Wall Street Journal report from the weekend indicated that one-third of BP wells around the globe use a well-casing design that BP says is an accepted practice, yet which Congress believes may contribute to the risk of a blowout and be used to save time and money. In an ironic note to start week 9 of the BP oil spill, BP CEO Tony Hayward was scheduled to deliver the 2010 keynote speech at the World National Oil Companies Congress in London on Tuesday, focusing on the global responsibilities of oil companies. Hayward has canceled, citing his commitment to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. It's ironic that when Hayward tries to send the right message to the public, global responsibility of oil companies is what ends up being sacrificed. Philosophers and writers have always known the truth. Nietzsche said if you stare into the abyss for long enough, the abyss stares into you, and staring at the BP live oil spill came for more than 60 days now, there seem to be more questions as far as how to overhaul oil industry regulation than potential solutions. We've got to keep staring into the abyss of the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico; that's part of the process of getting to a safer deep-water industry. Still, that long process involving a myriad of technical issues and deep-water devices doesn't take away from the importance of some basic logic of human motivations that has existed since Shakespeare wrote The Winter's Tale and had a character say, "Tis safer to avoid what's grown than question how 'tis born." -- Reported by Eric Rosenbaum in New York.
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