Tom Heath
Washington Post columnist

Tom Heath

Business reporter and Value Added columnist for The Washington Post.


Don't rush to judgment

First off, I am a direct shareholder of BP through the company's American Depository Shares. It's not a lot, but last time I checked, I owned more than 300 shares worth a total of around $15,000. So I am not unbiased.

That said, I don't agree with the basis of the question. It reeks of journalistic piling on. From what I have read, Tony Hayward has said BP will pay legitimate claims for damages from the spill.

He dropped everything, raced to the Gulf of Mexico and has amassed BP's resources (and that of other oil companies) to attack the spill and stop the leak, which is a mile beneath the sea. He has been visible. He has been on site at the Gulf. He has been in regular touch with the U.S. and state governments. From what I can tell, BP is taking a lot of responsibility for the accident.

Hayward has also acknowledged that the company could have done more in regards to the spill. I did not watch the hearings on Capitol Hill, where BP, Transocean (which owned and operated the drilling platform which blew up) and Halliburton were grilled. So has he really "steadfastly" denied responsibility?

As head of a huge public company, Hayward has many responsibilities. In addition to operating in a safe and environmentally sound manner, Hayward's BP has a responsibility to deliver a return to its shareholders, many of whom are pensions, endowments, retirees and investors like me, who rely on that money to live on.

While Hayward should take responsiblity for BP's role in the spill, it appears that other companies may share the blame -- and cost -- for what happened. And that's only right. Hayward is acting responsibly by not making BP liable for endless lawsuits and claims, some of which are no doubt valid, when some of that liability should be assumed by other companies. Many, many people have a vested interest in a successful, well-run, responsible BP.

By Tom Heath  |  May 20, 2010; 6:33 PM ET  | Category:  Comeback attempts Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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