BP's outgoing CEO Tony Hayward to testify to UK lawmakers on Gulf of Mexico oil spill

LONDON (AP) — Outgoing BP CEO Tony Hayward comes under scrutiny from British lawmakers Wednesday over the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, months after he offered few explanations for the accident at a testy hearing in Washington.

Hayward is scheduled to give evidence to a British parliamentary committee studying the fallout of the spill and the future of deep water drilling.

The head of the committee said his panel won't adopt the same confrontational tone as U.S. legislators, but would press Hayward and BP's head of safety Mark Bly — author of the company's internal report into the spill — for specifics on the mistakes that contributed to the accident.

Hayward, who will be replaced by chief executive Bob Dudley, an American, on Oct. 1, endured an onslaught of criticism when he appeared before the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee in June. He insisted he had little knowledge of decisions that contributed to the explosion at the Macondo well on April 20, which killed 11 workers and triggered the massive oil spill.

Hayward repeatedly told the U.S. committee he could not provide detailed explanations. "I'm not stonewalling. I simply was not involved in the decision-making process," he said.

Tim Yeo — a Conservative Party lawmaker and committee chairman — said his panel would be less aggressive, but will seek answers.

"We would like him to be forthcoming, but we recognize there are some constraints — some legal constraints — that he faces," said Yeo, a former environment minister.

Yeo's panel is considering whether additional regulation is needed in Britain, and whether the U.K. government was right not to follow President Barack Obama's lead in imposing a moratorium on new deep water drilling.

Both Transocean and BP PLC, which operated the Deepwater Horizon platform mining the Macondo well, have operations in the North Sea off the coast of the U.K., where there are 24 drilling rigs and 280 oil and gas installations.

The Financial Times reported Wednesday that all but one of BP's North Sea installations examined by government inspectors last year were cited for failure to comply with emergency regulations on oil spills. Citing inspection records obtained under Britain's Freedom of Information Act, it revealed BP had not complied with rules on training for offshore operators and had failed to conduct adequate oil spill exercises.

Yeo said his panel would question Hayward on the lack of training for offshore workers.

"My hope is that we can extract the lessons that need to be learned for the future of deep water drilling in the U.K.," he said.

The U.K. government has increased the number of rig inspectors there following the Gulf disaster from six to nine, as part of a promise to double the 69 inspections they carried out last year. But environmentalists — noting a government agency report last month that revealed a spike in accidental leaks and serious injuries to workers on offshore platforms — say a moratorium on drilling is needed.

The British committee has previously taken evidence from Transocean. It will issue a series of recommendations on safety, likely before the end of the year, but has no powers to compel Britain's Conservative-led government to accept its findings.


Associated Press Writer Raphael G. Satter in London contributed to this report