The Full Story: On April 20, one of BP's deepwater oil rigs blew up off the Louisiana coast. Eleven men were killed and it became the world's worst accidental oil spill. Crude gushed from the floor of the Gulf of Mexico for three months (estimates ranged from 35,000 to 60,000 barrels a day), ravaging the local economy and endangered wildlife and shorelines before it could be plugged. The event, as awful as it was, also became a public-relations fiasco for BP because of Hayward's attitude and ineptitude in managing the situation. He committed one gaffe after another. For example, Hayward indicated that there were essentially no oil plumes on the ocean floor, only to be contradicted by scientists. He sounded cavalier on mid-May, when he said the spill was "relatively tiny" in comparison with the size of the ocean. Two weeks later, he called it "an environmental catastrophe." Then the clincher came on May 30, when Haywar said, "There's no one who wants this thing over more than I do. You know, I'd like my life back." In a June 8 interview on NBC, President Barack Obama said Hayward "wouldn't be working for me after any of those statements."
What's Happened Since? The day after a congressional hearing on BP's role in the disaster, where the CEO was not forthcoming, Carl-Henric Svanberg, the chairman of BP, said Hayward was on his way out. Hayward took off the very next day to watch his yacht compete in a race and to spend time with his son, infuriating politicians and the American public. Bob Dudley, a Mississippi native, replaced Hayward. Until the end of the year, Hayward remains in BP's employ as a nonexecutive director of TNK-BP, a U.K.-Russian joint venture. He was courted by several companies and is now establishing an energy advisory firm called 3E in London. The aftermath of the spill continues to cause extensive damage to marine and wildlife habitats as well as the gulf's fishing and tourism industries, and Obama has banned deepwater drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico for the next seven years.
In His Own Words: "Whether it is fair or unfair is not the point: I became the public face [of the BP catastrophe] and was demonized and vilified. BP cannot move on in the U.S. with me as its leader," Hayward told reporters as re stepped down as CEO in July. "Sometimes you step off the pavement and get hit by a bus." In November, at the Cambridge Union, Hayward told students, "While we were able to mount a massive response to contain and disperse the oil on the surface, we did not have the equipment to contain and disperse on the seabed. In fact, the equipment had never been designed or built. It simply did not exist," and he admitted contingency plans were woefully inadequate. The Guardian also reported that Hayward told the BBC that he would have needed to study drama rather than geology if he had wanted to perform better in front of a hostile American public.
Video: To see "I'd like my life back," click here. See more here.
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