NEW YORK (
CEO Tony Hayward is often seen in photos wearing a BP hard hat. Hayward may very well need some protective head gear for the attacks he will face Thursday morning in testimony on Capitol Hill.
The best efforts by BP to stop the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, all failures, included the "top kill" and "junk shot." Now it is the turn of congressmen, high on their investigative dais, to unleash the interrogatory top kill in combat against what they probably expect will be a smattering of verbal junk shots from BP CEO Hayward.
Capitol Hill testimony is a delicate dance for under-fire, or in Hayward's case, deep-water executives. Hayward will not only have to stick to the talking points but try to not lose his cool at every attempt by congressmen to score points by getting him to sabotage his own blowout preventer.
With a fair degree of certainty, we can predict the line of questioning on which the Hayward grilling will center. This is the Oversight and Investigations subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and it's all about uncovering the cause of the BP oil spill for these Capitol Hill sleuths. The House sent a letter to the BP CEO earlier this week laying out the questionable decisions made by BP in operating the well -- referred to by BP engineers in internal emails as a "nightmare well" -- in the events leading up to the oil spill.
Well Design, centralizers, mud circulation, cement bond logs and lockdown sleeves. It's enough to make a person regret that they didn't go to graduate school for petroleum engineering. Regardless, the primary materials loaded into Hayward's junk shot defense are previewed in his opening statement.
"This is a complex accident, caused by an unprecedented combination of failures," Hayward will say. Hayward also will say that neither he nor anyone else at BP could "foresee" the events of April 20.
Sound familiar? It wasn't too long ago that the parade of bank executives bailed out by the federal government explained away the financial crisis with the "unprecedented series of events," or, perfect storm argument, and the claim that a debt crisis of this magnitude was impossible for anyone to foresee.
Hayward is intending to pass some of the oil spill buck to other companies, too, saying in his opening remarks, "A number of companies are involved, including BP," and going on to say, "It is simply too early to understand the cause."
It's never too early for a good ole Capitol Hill grilling, though, and there lots of deep-water ground to cover in the BP CEP's attempts to steer clear of deep water on Capitol Hill.
-- Reported by Eric Rosenbaum in New York.
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