Anadarko Petroleum Corp., which owns a quarter of BP PLC's blown-out oil well in the Gulf of Mexico, late on Friday blasted BP "reckless decisions and actions" that led to the well's explosion.
Anadarko Chairman and CEO Jim Hackett's statement came after some elected officials said Anadarko should help pay for the massive cleanup and spill-related claims. Company spokesman John Christiansen said the comments were in response to "a week's worth of testimony" and other information and data compiled on the disaster.
"The mounting evidence clearly demonstrates that this tragedy was preventable and the direct result of BP's reckless decisions and actions," said Hackett in the statement. "We recognize that ultimately we have obligations under federal law related to the oil spill, but will look to BP to continue to pay all legitimate claims as they have repeatedly stated that they will do." The information disclosed this week "indicates BP operated unsafely and failed to monitor and react to several critical warning signs during the drilling" the statement continued. "BP's behavior and actions likely represent gross negligence or willful misconduct."
BP chief executive officer Tony Hayward said in a statement that the company strongly disagreed with the allegations "These allegations will neither distract the company s focus on stopping the leak nor alter our commitment to restore the Gulf coast," Hayward said. "Other parties besides BP may be responsible for costs and liabilities arising from the oil spill, and we expect those parties to live up to their obligations."
Anadarko had no employees on the well and was a non-operating partner in the project. A subsidiary of Mitsui & Co. Ltd. of Japan had a 10 percent stake. The rig was owned by Transocean Ltd. of Switzerland and operated by BP.
Anadarko also hinted at potential legal action against BP. The statement said BP had a duty to perform the drilling "in a good and workmanlike manner and to comply with all applicable laws and regulations." The contract also holds BP responsible to its co-owners for damages "caused by its gross negligence or willful misconduct."
Christiansen would not say whether Anadarko could be absolved of paying spill-related costs if lawmakers find BP negligent, or confirm that Anadarko intends to take legal action. "We're looking at what's available to us under our contractual remedies," he said. Anadarko said any actions it takes "to protect its rights relative to BP's performance" will not shift the financial burden to taxpayers.
Anadarko's statement came as BP removed CEO Tony Hayward from day-to-day oversight of the oil spill crisis, a day after he was pummeled by lawmakers in an appearance on Capitol Hill. Hayward's refusal on Thursday to answer lawmakers' questions, claiming that he was out of the loop, left many members of a House committee furious. BP still has not said what caused the blast at the well.