The public relations dilemma facing BP in the aftermath of the worst oil spill in US history highlights the precarious situation this FTSE stalwart now finds itself in.
Successive failures to stem a raging torrent of oil from the pipe have led to growing pressure on the oil giants share price, concentrating boardroom minds on the problem at hand.
As the ecological, financial and political situation deteriorates criticisms have been levelled at BP’s chief executive Tony Hayward for initially wishing to share the blame with rig owners Transocean and the company in charge of cementing the well, Haliburton. “This was not our accident… this was not our drilling rig.”
That blame game is now acknowledged to have been a PR disaster for the company which has now changed tack with Hayward stating: “A number of companies are involved, including BP, and it’s simply too early – and not up to us – to say who is at fault.”
Hayward elicited further rebukes for an ill advised statement belittling the environmental impact of oil and dispersant. “The Gulf of Mexico is a very big ocean,” Hayward averred, “The amount of volume of oil and dispersant we are putting into it is tiny in relation to the total water volume.”
Most recently Hayward has found himself scorned for denying the existence of underwater slicks, against the evidence of independent scientists. Hayward subsequently came in for stick when expressing frustration over the drawn out disaster when he said: “I’d like my life back.” A sentiment that did not go down well with the families of the 11 men killed on the Deepwater Horizon.
Pundits now believe that Hayward will be the latest casualty of the slick, potentially out of a job by Christmas.