The third day of the BP trial has featured a combative BP higher-up, a BP senior executive who resigned from BP in disgust, expert witnesses in the drilling field, and the star of today's show...the one, the only, Tony "I Want My Life Back" Hayward. Tony, sadly, did not actually make the trip to New Orleans for this trial; his testimony was from 2011, but was entered into evidence today. US District Judge Carl Barbier has prohibited the release of courtroom audio or video, but parts of Hayward's deposition have been available for public view when The Daily, a New York-based daily news app for iPads, obtained a leaked copy and published it in 2011, over the court's objections.
And for those of you who have not seen Tony's testimony, it is presented (well, some of it) in all its nefarious glory, courtesy of The Daily...
Hayward appeared before the court in videotaped testimony from 2011. Mobile lawyer Robert "Bobo" Cunningham, representing private plaintiffs in the case, confronted Hayward about his comments in numerous speeches and interviews regarding the need to cut costs.Tony's memory seem to be rather hazy when it comes to what happened in April of 2010.
"'Leaders are very important. They play a major role in shaping the culture of an organization.' Did you say those words, Dr. Hayward?" Cunningham asked.
"I did say that," Hayward responded. "But there are other things."
During the deposition, attorneys raised questions about Hayward’s sincerity when he said he had the best interest at heart of spill victims.Prior to the appearance of Mister Gusher, former head of BP America Lamar McKay took the stand to complete his testimony from late yesterday.
Hayward famously infuriated Gulf residents during the height of the spill with his comment, “I’d like my life back.”
Asked during the deposition if he could remember the names of the 11 rig workers killed, Hayward misidentified one man and could name only two others.
Under questioning from Cunningham, McKay undertook to spread the blame for the blowout.
"I think that's a shared responsibility, to manage the safety and the risk," said McKay. "Sometimes contractors manage that risk. Sometimes we do. Most of the time it's a team effort."Next up (after the Hayward video testimony) was Kevin Lacy, BP's senior vice president for Gulf drilling operations. Lacy resigned in December of 2009, citing an impasse with BP executives over safety issues, referencing yesterday's statements about cost cutting.
"I was never given a directive to cut corners," Lacy said in videotaped testimony. "But there was tremendous pressure on cost."These cost-cutting issues seem to be a recurring theme, do they not?
Following Lacy was expert witness Alan Huffman, a geophysicist with many years as a consultant in the oil and gas industry.
Huffman was unflinching in his contention that BP knowingly violated safe drilling standards when doing so would save money.
"They were egregious beyond anything I've seen in my career," Alan Huffman, a veteran consultant to the oil industry, said from the witness stand this morning.Matt Regan, a BP attorney, strongly challenged Huffman in a technical debate over the meaning of regulations for monitoring wells when Huffman did not agree that MMS rules were violated. After a lengthy back and forth between Regan and Huffman, Judge Barbier interrupted, saying, "You're beating a dead horse, Mr. Regan. Let's move it along."
Huffman, who has over 30 years of experience in the oil and gas industry, said BP repeatedly withheld or misrepresented information about the rig from federal regulators.
"That is not what a prudent operator does," Huffman said. "This was beyond imprudent. It was unsafe and dangerous."
Huffman said there were several kicks, or evidence of gas or oil intrusion, in the well during the drilling of the well. The work should have stopped at that point, he said. But BP decided to continue to drill ahead when it reached 18,220 feet, endangering the lives of the workers on the Deepwater Horizon rig above.
“I would have been very concerned for everyone on that rig,” he said.
As of this posting, Huffman is still on the stand. Followup will appear in tomorrow's edition.
I know it's too early to have any expectations, but from my third-party observations, Judge Barbier doesn't look as though he has much patience with dead-horse beating...
This first phase of the trial, which will likely take three months, focuses on causes of the blowout and will determine how to allocate fault.
The second phase will be concerned with the amount of oil released.
Judge Barbier also is expected to determine if the disaster resulted from gross negligence. Further proceedings could determine how much in punitive damages should be assessed, and separate trials could determine damage awards for individuals and businesses that opted out of a multibillion-dollar settlement last year between BP and private parties claiming economic or health damages.--------------------------------------
This isn't BP, but Shell. And it looks like (even if temporary) a definite hurray for our side...