BP Managing Director Bob Dudley insisted on Sunday that his company did not "cut-corners" in its operations in the Gulf, despite increasingly clear indications it did.
Appearing on ABC's This Week (among other Sunday shows) Dudley was asked to respond to a slew of questionable, operational decisions made by BP at the site of the current oil spill in the Gulf. Chief among them was the decision by the company to use a riskier type of metal casing for the well.
"I'm not sure it is a riskier option," Dudley said of the casing. "The casing designs that are used in the Gulf of Mexico, we've used those in other places. I think those are statements that an investigation needs to go through and look at. Cutting corners is not the way I describe how we do our business and the men that work out on those rigs are no more conscious of safety. They have to live out there and that's what they focus on. So I wouldn't call it cutting corners in any way."
The comments by Dudley came amid a troubling and difficult moment in public relations control for the company. On Saturday night it was revealed that the latest effort to stem the spill of oil into the Gulf (the "top kill" procedure) had failed. That said, dismissing questions about risky metal casing by pointing out that that metal casing is used elsewhere may not be the most savvy effort at soothing the concerns of the general public.
On Sunday morning, meanwhile, the New York Times published a investigatory report showing that BP's own internal documents had raised serious concerns about the safety of the Deepwater Horizon rig deep in the Gulf. Among other alarming notes, the documents showed that in March 2010, BP was struggling with "well control" at the site. All of which led host Jake Tapper to the question: why not shut the well down, at least temporarily, until control was achieved.
"Well, that's -- that is another issue that the investigation is going to look at very, very carefully," said Dudley. "There were issues of well control, signs out there and there are strict procedures that are written, the rig owners, to walk through well control. That's what the investigation will take minute by minute and investigate that. The failure of the blowout preventers is something that is also very, very troubling. it will impact the industry and is the piece of equipment that is not expected to fail and that's going to have implications for everyone around the world."
Waiting for the findings of an investigation before weighing in on an issue is the ultimate form of punting on a question. But Dudley resisted offering much in the way of a mea culpa -- in fact, he insinuated that the well-control issue was someone else's fault -- even after Tapper tried once again.
"There is a company that is used there to drill the well -- a contractor drills the well, is responsible for some of those items," said Dudley. "We're not going to point fingers. I'm sure there was a lot of discussion out there but that is what the marine board investigation will pull apart step by step. Certainly some of the equipment should have worked simply by closing in the well. That did not happen. We need to find out why and the fact that that equipment failed is why we have an oil spill today."
More from Dudley's ABC appearance: