OTR Interviews

Inside the Meeting Between BP and President Obama

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," June 16, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Now you go inside President Obama's meeting with BP officials. BP's Managing Director Bob Dudley was in the meeting, and a short time ago he went "On the Record."


VAN SUSTEREN: Bob, thank you very much for joining us.

BOB DUDLEY, MANAGING DIRECTOR, BP: Sure. Greta. It is good to be here.

VAN SUSTEREN: Bob, before we talk about today's meeting, give me an update on the status of the attempt to contain the oil in the bottom of the Gulf.

DUDLEY: So there's the second flow path has been opened up and it is producing about 5,000 barrels a day. There's about 15,000 barrels a day coming out of first flow path. Once we get the second one fully up to running it should be capacity of about 28,000 barrels total.

VAN SUSTEREN: What is your estimate of when that will happen?

DUDLEY: It will happen over the course of 24 hours.

VAN SUSTEREN: That's at least more favorable news at least.

DUDLEY: It is, yes. It is getting there Greta, it is getting there. We are learning more as we go through this.

VAN SUSTEREN: Tell me what happened today. You to the White House, give me a narration of how the meeting was for you.

DUDLEY: Greta, we met with the president, the vice president, and members of his cabinet today. We were there for about four and a half hours. In the beginning of the meeting the president was very direct with the team, said there was great concern for what is happening in the Gulf, great sense of urgency for capping the well.

He had deep, deep concern, personal concern for people along the Gulf coast. He wanted to make it very clear that BP had its obligations to meet.

Our chairman told him how deeply tragic we all feel at BP about what has happened there and assured him we were going to make our commitments to the people of the Gulf coast. And then we met in --

VAN SUSTEREN: Go ahead. I'm sorry, sir.

DUDLEY: So then we met with members of his staff, head legal team, and we worked out the details and agreement for several hours. Then the president came back in before the meetings finished around 2:30.

VAN SUSTEREN: One of the people who attended was the attorney general of the United States, Eric Holder. He has opened a criminal and civil investigation of the different parties involved in this oil leak. Did the attorney general say anything to you about the investigation? Was it mentioned at all?

DUDLEY: Greta, it was not mentioned. The president's objectives today were to understand what the status of the leak was and the containment operations as well as our commitments to set up an escrow account to assure the American people along the Gulf coast we would meet those obligations there.

There was no discussion about the investigation at the meeting. The president was very well informed about the status of operations, and it was focused on getting this problem solved and making sure we pay the claims to those along the Gulf.

VAN SUSTEREN: Did you get any idea there is a give-and-take discussion, or did you and the other members of BP simply report to the White House and you were just going to be put in a position taking whatever the United States or the president or the attorney general or the vice president told you that was going to happen to BP?

DUDLEY: Greta, I thought it was clear understanding from the president we had obligations to meet and that we needed to work through a way we could do that to reassure people.

It was a give-and-take meeting about the practicalities of doing that. The president was very clear that he regarded BP as a viable going concern. We need to structure something that would reduce the uncertainty for our shareholders, which I think is what happened in this meeting today.

And then BP worked out the details of the $20 billion escrow account, and setting up and transitioning the claims process we've set up to Ken Feinberg as an independent claims adjudicator. And I think should go a lock way of reassuring the people around the Gulf as well as our own shareholders.

VAN SUSTEREN: As I understand, $20 billion is being put into this escrow account, and it's going to be done at $5 billion increments. First of all, is that correct? And secondly, is there any reason why it is not being done immediately, all the money being put into the pot at the outset to give greater confidence to some of the people who are suffering and will continue to suffer?

DUDLEY: Greta, we are going to secure ties with $20 billion dollars immediately with assets in North America that are off that value. We will structure the payments into the fund which will mirror we think the flow of the claims, generally $5 billion before the end of the year then roughly $5 billion a year thereafter.

In addition, BP today announced it would be suspending dividends for three dividend payments this year, starting with suspension of a payment we were going to make on Monday to shareholders that have previously been approved and the third and fourth quarter.

So I think this should reassure people around the Gulf, individuals and businesses, that we will be there for a long time. And this provides more certainty and structure for our shareholders so we can make sure that we remain strong and viable to make sure we meet the obligations around the Gulf.

VAN SUSTEREN: I know how you are being received here in the United States. Of course there are shareholders here in the United States, but shareholders for instance in the U.K., how are they receiving the news and other shareholders that the dividend is being suspended?

DUDLEY: Well, of course, particularly difficult was suspending payment that to be made Monday to pay that dividend was done some time ago. That's difficult because people had planned on receiving that money not only in the U.K. but here in the U.S.

However, we want to send a very strong signal to the president and all the people around the Gulf coast that we are going to honor these claims and do what it takes, and we are going to do them in that priority.

VAN SUSTEREN: Your company has taken quite a beating by many. Has it been fair?

DUDLEY: Well, Greta, I know that oil companies are not popular. It has been that way for sometime in the U.S. It is a company made up of people, many of which live along the Gulf coast, that are integrated into the fabric of the communities there.

We have 23,000 people in the U.S., many of which around the Gulf coast. I think -- everyone is devastated by what has happened. I think I would look at some of the process today as just making sure that through that sentiment we don't actually shoot the dog who is trying to bring home the bone and meet its obligations across the Gulf, and we are going to be there a long time.

VAN SUSTEREN: Do you have the sense that the president was there with seriousness, purpose, 100 percent, any politics, any sort of showboating or even photo-op, or are you satisfied this is seriousness of purpose?

DUDLEY: Greta, it was a very -- it was a real working meeting. The president came and talked with us, laid out objectives. I think he wanted to look at BP in the eye and make sure we were going to meet these obligations.

We then worked through in great detail with his staff so we could announce these very reassuring steps.

So no, he spoke passionately about his trips to the Gulf coast. I think we were just doing things that were good for the country, the states and for BP, all in one go. I hope it demonstrated that to people along the Gulf coast and people who have invested in BP.

VAN SUSTEREN: Bob, thank you very much for joining us. And of course we all look forward to stopping this leak as soon as we can. Thank you, sir.

DUDLEY: We will. Thank you, Greta.


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