US politicians line up to ‘slice and dice’ BP

By staff

A protestor interrupted the testimony of BP chairman Tony Hayward, as he was “sliced and diced” by US congressmen on Capitol Hill.

The incident came at the end of a series of opening statements from congressmen and immediately before Mr Hayward began his opening testimony, in which he said he was “personally devastated” by the disaster.

“Emotions run high on this issue. But we’ve got a hearing to conduct here, we’re going to conduct this hearing with proper decorum,” committee chairman Henry Waxman said.

The grilling comes one day after the energy giant agreed to president Barack Obama’s demands to set up a $20 billion (£13.6 billion) fund for the victims of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

An independent third party will manage the fund. BP also agreed to suspend dividend payments to its shareholders, confirming market fears which have seen the company’s share price plummet.

“BP cut corner after corner and now the whole Gulf Coast is paying the price,” Mr Waxman told BP’s chief executive Tony Hayward.

“What we are seeing is the same corporate indifference to risk that caused the collapse on Wall Street.”

Mr Waxman said investigators had examined 30,000 pages of documents and emails in a bid to find evidence BP had listened to evidence about the risks at the Deepwater Horizon rig.

“The people of the Gulf have my commitment that BP will meet its obligations to them,” Mr Obama said after the talks yesterday.

“This is about accountability, at the end of the day that is what every American wants.”

Mr Hayward apologised for “these tragic events” which had left him “personally devastated” in a prepared testimony for the House of Representatives’ energy and commerce subcommittee.

“I deeply regret the impact the spill has had. I want to acknowledge the questions that you are rightly asking… I hear and understand the concerns, frustrations and anger being voiced across the country.”

His comments are unlikely to mitigate the impact of the congressmen facing him. Committee chair Bart Stupak said he was “going to take [Mr Hayward’s] hide off”.

Up to 40,000 barrels per day (bpd) are thought to have gushed into the Gulf since the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded on April 20th, killing 11 workers.