Oil of Wight: Under-fire BP boss Tony Hayward takes time out to enjoy Cowes Week
Quote:Oil of Wight: Under-fire BP boss Tony Hayward takes time out to enjoy Cowes Week
By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 7:07 PM on 19th June 2010
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The embattled chief executive of BP raised a few eyebrows in the United States today as he enjoyed the start of Cowes Week.
As company officials insisted Tony Hayward was still in charge of the operation to control the Gulf of Mexico spill amid confusion over his role, the keen sailor was seen in the Isle of Wight.
A yacht named Bob, co-owned by Mr Hayward, was taking part in the JP Morgan Asset Management Round The Island Race today and a man looking rather like him was pictured on board, although BP - perhaps worried about the PR implications - refused to confirm his presence.
Yacht Bob off the Isle Of Wight
Not a slick PR move: As oil chokes the waters of the Gulf of Mexico, a man who looks remarkably like Tony Hayward, centre, enjoys a day out on BP boss's yacht Bob off the Isle Of Wight - although a spokesman for the company was unable to confirm his presence
After he received a grilling this week at the hands of a U.S. politicians of a Senate committee investigating the the blast on the Deepwater Horizon well, it is perhaps not surprising that Mr Hayward could do with putting some wind in his sails.
Mr Hayward being grilled for six hours before a Senate committee on Thursday
But environmental staff working round the clock on the clean-up will no doubt take issue at the use of his downtime.
But Hugh Walding, of Friends Of The Earth, criticised Mr Hayward for his outing, saying he deserved all the criticism he was getting over his failure to control the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
Mr Walding had no sympathy: 'I'm sure that this will be seen as yet another public relations disaster for him from people who have got exceedingly upset about this whole thing.
'Personally I don't think that the bloke is particularly competent from the results that he has delivered. He obviously doesn't have the technical know-how but he should at least be managing the image of the company better.'
'He is spending some time with his son. His son is on the Isle of Wight,' said BP spokesman Sheila William. No spokesperson for the company could get in touch with Mr Hayward.
The crisis that has followed , which killed 11 workers, has seen millions of gallons of oil continuing to threaten the Gulf Coast. It is America's worst environmental disaster and has led to tensions between the US administration and BP.
Yesterday the company's chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg said Mr Hayward had been relieved of day-to-day control of the spill and that BP managing director Bob Dudley would now take over.
However other BP officials insisted Mr Hayward remained in charge of the operation.
With his collar up and wearing a cap and glasses, the man believed to be Mr Hayward makes up the crew of his yacht during the race. The move will be seen as insensitive considering the ongoing crisis in the Gulf of Mexico
Mr Hayward has been at the centre of several BP publicity nightmares, not the least of which being his six-hour grilling by a merciless U.S. politicians.
And, during an interview, Mr Hayward appeared to look self-centred when he said: 'There's no-one who wants this think over more than I do, you know, I'd like my life back.'
It appears he now has his wish.
Isle of Wight
Great day out: Yachts pass the Needles during the JP Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race
JP Morgan Asset Management Round
Yachts of all ages and sizes compete in the 50 nautical mile, clockwise circumnavigation of the island
Yachts competing during the JP Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race
The 1754 yachts set sail today at 5am
Gulf of Mexico
Meanwhile... in the Gulf of Mexico work boats fight an uphill battle to contain oil on the surface. Up to 60,000 barrels a day are spewing into the gulf
As Mr Hayward enjoyed his Isle Of Wight yacht race, between 35,000 and 60,000 barrels of oil a day are continuing to pour from the ruptured well.
A company spokeswoman said today: 'Until the acute part of this crisis is over, until the leak is capped, Tony Hayward is still very much in charge in the response to this crisis.'
She said that Mr Hayward would at some point hand over 'the management of the aftermath'.
BP has come under further pressure after one of its partners said the British oil giant should shoulder all the financial burden for the spill.
Anadarko Petroleum, which owns a quarter of the well, last night refused to accept any blame for the explosion, which happened on April 20.
The company's chairman and chief executive Jim Hackett said in a statement that BP's actions probably amounted to 'gross negligence or wilful misconduct' and insisted it should foot the whole damage bill.
Amid mounting anger in the US the company has set up a £13 billion compensation fund and scrapped shareholder dividends until the end of the year.
Kevin Costner in Louisiana
To the rescue: Hollywood star Kevin Costner, centre, speaks about his company's centrifuge machine designed to separate oil and water in Port Fourchon, Louisiana
When asked about comments made by the president of Russia - a BP partner - Dmitry Medvedev, about the possible 'annihilation' of the company, Mr Svanberg said: 'No, I don't think so. I think we have to put everything in perspective, of course this is a huge thing, it is a huge setback for BP... so of course the company is strong, the company has strong underlying performance, strong cash flow, strong operations.'
In an interview with Sky News Mr Svanberg also defended Mr Hayward who was accused by the US Congress of 'stone-walling"'and failing to adequately answer questions.
Mr Svanberg said: 'It is clear that Tony has made remarks that have upset people but he is also a man who has probably been on 100 hours of TV time and maybe 500.'
* 'The most incompetent CEO in living memory': BP chief Tony Hayward demoted after public flogging as clean-up cost could reach $70bn
'America is frustrated, the fishermen, the people living on the Gulf Coast are frustrated and all the voices you hear, and you will hear those voices until we have done well there...'
Mr Hayward pledged that BP would foot the entire clean-up bill but insisted it was 'too early to say' what caused the spill.
A company spokeswoman said of Mr Hayward's yachting outing: 'We wouldn't dream of commenting on what the chief executive does in his rare moments of private time.'
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