BP chief Tony Hayward is in trouble again after he was spotted at a yacht race in England, prompting new criticism of his handling of the continuing Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
AFP - A yacht outing has landed BP chief Tony Hayward in more hot water, unleashing fresh criticism of his handling of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill and overshadowing modest progress in containing the disaster.
The White House and environmental groups were quick to lash out at Hayward's latest mishap after he was sighted at the JP Morgan Asset Management Round The Island Race, which sees hundreds of yachts race around the Isle of Wight off England's south coast.
"Well, to quote Tony Hayward, he's got his life back, as he would say," White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel said, referencing the BP boss's now-notorious slip.
"And I think we can all conclude that Tony Hayward is not going to have a second career in PR (public relations) consulting," he told ABC's "This Week" in excerpts of an interview to be broadcast Sunday.
"This has just been part of a long line of PR gaffes and mistakes."
Hayward attended the boat race in his native Britain a day after BP announced he was handing over daily control of the energy giant's spill response to managing director Bob Dudley, an American.
BP raced to defend Hayward's vacation outing with his son in Britain.
"Still, no matter where he is, he is always in touch with what is happening within BP," company spokesman John Curry told AFP.
Another spokesman Robert Wine noted this was Hayward's "first non-working day since this (spill) started."
Earlier this week, US lawmakers skewered Hayward for failing to answer questions about the origins of the massive oil gusher that has spoiled once-pristine beaches and shorelines, killed wildlife and put a big dent in the Gulf Coast's multi-billion-dollar fishing industry.
Environmental campaigners in Britain sharply criticized Hayward's decision to attend the race.
Greenpeace's Charlie Kronick said his actions were "insulting" and the equivalent of "rubbing salt into the wounds" of those affected by the worst environmental disaster in US history.
Republican Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama, one of the four Gulf Coast states sullied by the brownish tides of thick oily mix, called Hayward's yacht outing "the height of arrogance."
"I can tell you, that yacht ought to be here skimming and cleaning up a lot of the oil," Shelby told Fox News television.
The latest controversy swirling around Hayward capped a nightmare week for BP, whose public image is in tatters after its shares slumped on the stock market, its credit worthiness was slashed and its top executives were hauled to the White House.
Earlier, the company said its main vessel capturing oil from the leak restarted after a 10-hour shutdown due to a blocked vent and lightning storm concerns.
The Discoverer Enterprise, a ship siphoning 15,000 to 18,000 barrels of oil per day directly from the containment cap atop the ruptured well, shut down late Friday due to a blocked flame arrester, a device intended to stop the crude from combusting, said spokesman Wine.
On Friday, BP recovered a total of some 24,500 barrels of oil, a slightly lower figure than the day before because of the shutdown.
The joint information center for the disaster said BP is improving its recovery from the well and "continues to capture some oil and burn gas at the surface using its containment dome technique."
In addition to the Discoverer Enterprise, which is linked by the riser pipe to the wellhead, a second recovery vessel, the Q4000, continues to flare off additional oil and gas being brought up through the system, the statement said.
No permanent solution to the devastating leak is expected until mid-August, when two relief wells are due to be completed before heavy drilling fluids can be pumped into the existing well to drown the flow and then plug it for good with cement.
One drilling rig has extended the first relief well to a depth of approximately 11,000 feet below the sea; a second well is at around 5,000 feet below the sea floor.
Earlier Saturday BP said it had paid 104 million dollars to Gulf Coast residents for the 64,000 claims it has received so far as a result of the oil spill.
Date created : 2010-06-20