In his first major public speech since taking the top job, Dudley said BP would not pull out of the United States – and that the U.S. needs a company with BP’s resources to meet its vast energy needs.
Dudley delivered a speech whose mood hovered between firm and penitent, seeking to make clear that BP was learning every lesson possible from the disaster. He stressed that he also has met with experts from other hazardous industries, including the nuclear and chemical industries, as part of the company’s focus on improving safety.
U.S. lawmakers have widely blamed BP for the disaster. Former EPA Administrator William K. Reilly, co-chair of an independent oil spill commission investigating the rig explosion, suggested Monday that BP fed the fear and mistrust by initially minimizing the impact of the spill.
In an interview with The Associated Press in New Orleans, Reilly said the company shouldn’t downplay the significance of “what occurred and what happened on their watch and what was their responsibility to prevent.”
The U.S. government could fine BP up to $21 billion for the spill, on top of a $20 billion disaster fund that the company has committed itself to. A bill that passed in the U.S. House of Representatives would prevent companies like BP that have a poor safety record from getting new offshore permits. A Senate bill that was eventually tabled didn’t contain a similar provision.
Earlier Monday, BP announced it has sold its stake in four mature oil and gas fields in the Gulf of Mexico to Marubeni Oil and Gas for $650 million (euro466 million). The fields were part of a recent acquisition of Gulf assets from Devon Energy and were considered nonessential. BP is hoping to raise $30 billion from selling assets and already has raked in almost $9 billion from the sale of properties in Egypt, Canada, the U.S. and Colombia.
BP continues to make plans for further drilling projects in the Gulf of Mexico. Rig owner Pride International Inc. said BP has leased two of its deepwater rigs. One of those rigs is already in the Gulf and another is on its way. Pride spokeswoman Kate Perez said it’s unclear what projects are in store for those rigs – they still could be moved out of the Gulf. BP relies on the Gulf for about 10 percent of its total oil and gas production.
President Barack Obama recently lifted a moratorium on new deepwater drilling in the Gulf, imposed after the April 20 explosion that kicked off the worst oil spill in U.S. history. Obama is due to announce further recommendations under a presidential commission in the coming months.