Senate oil spill hearings: Lamar McKay, BP

Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee
Tuesday, May 11, 20101
Written Testimony
Lamar McKay
Chairman & President, BP America

Chairman Bingaman, Ranking Member Murkowski, members of the committee, I
am Lamar McKay, Chairman and President of BP America.

We have all experienced a tragic series of events.

I want to be clear from the outset that we will not rest until the well is under
control. As a responsible party under the Oil Pollution Act, we will carry out our
responsibilities to mitigate the environmental and economic impacts of this
We – and, indeed, the entire energy sector as a whole – are determined to
understand what happened, why it happened, take the learnings from this
incident, and make the changes necessary to make our company and our
industry stronger and safer. We understand that the world is watching and that
we and our industry colleagues will be judged by how we respond to these
Three weeks ago tonight, eleven people were lost in an explosion and fire aboard
the Transocean Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, and seventeen others were
injured. My deepest sympathies go out to the families and friends who have
suffered such a terrible loss and to those in Gulf Coast communities whose lives
and livelihoods are being impacted.
This was a horrendous accident. We are all devastated by this. It has profoundly
touched our employees, their families, our partners, customers, those in the
surrounding areas and those in government with whom we are working. There
has been tremendous shock that such an accident could have happened, and
great sorrow for the lives lost and the injuries sustained. The safety of our
employees and our contractors and the safety of the environment are always our
first priorities.

The data described throughout this testimony is accurate to the best of my knowledge as of 8am
Monday, May 10, 2010, when this testimony was submitted. The information that we have
continues to develop as our response to the incident continues.

Even as we absorb the human dimensions of this tragedy, I want to underscore
our intense determination to do everything humanly possible to minimize the
environmental and economic impacts of the resulting oil spill on the Gulf Coast.
From the outset, the global resources of BP have been engaged. Nothing is
being spared. We are fully committed to the response.
And from the beginning, we have never been alone. On the night of the accident,
the Coast Guard helped rescue the 115 survivors from the rig. The list of
casualties could easily have been longer without the professionalism and
dedication of the Coast Guard.
Even before the Transocean Deepwater Horizon sank on the morning of April
22nd, a Unified Command structure was established, as provided by federal
regulations. Currently led by the National Incident Commander, Admiral Thad
Allen, the Unified Command provides a structure for BP’s work with the Coast
Guard, the Minerals Management Service and Transocean, among others.
Immediately following the explosion, in coordination with the Unified Command,
BP began mobilizing oil spill response resources including skimmers, storage
barges, tugs, aircraft, dispersant, and open-water and near shore boom.
Working together with federal and state governments under the umbrella of the
Unified Command, BP’s team of operational and technical experts is
coordinating with many agencies, organizations and companies. These include
the Departments of Energy, Interior, Homeland Security and Defense, National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), US Fish & Wildlife Service
(USFW), National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), EPA, OSHA, Gulf Coast
state environmental and wildlife agencies, the Marine Spill Response Corporation
(an oil spill response consortium), as well as numerous state, city, parish and
county agencies.
As Coast Guard Rear Admiral Mary Landry noted on April 28: “BP is being
appropriately forward leaning in bringing all the resources to bear to control this
The industry as a whole has responded in full support. Among the resources that
have been made available:
• Drilling and technical experts who are helping determine solutions to stopping
the spill and mitigating its impact, including specialists in the areas of subsea
wells, environmental science and emergency response;
• Technical advice on blowout preventers, dispersant application, well
construction and containment options;
• Additional drilling rigs to serve as staging areas for equipment and
responders, more remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) for deep underwater
work, barges, support vessels and additional aircraft, as well as training and
working space for the Unified Command.
The actions we’re taking
As Chairman and President of BP America, I am part of an executive team that
reports directly to our Global CEO, Tony Hayward. I am BP’s lead representative
in the US and am responsible for broad oversight and connectivity across all of
our US-based businesses.
BP itself has committed tremendous global resources to the effort. Among many
other tasks, they are helping to train and organize the more than 10,000 citizen
volunteers who have come forward to offer their services.
Indeed, we have received a great many offers of help and assistance. The
outpouring of support from government, industry, businesses and private citizens
has truly been humbling and inspiring. It is remarkable to watch people come
together in crisis.
Our efforts are focused on two overarching goals:
• Stopping the flow of oil; and
• Minimizing the impact on the environment.
Subsea efforts to secure the well
Our subsea efforts to stop the flow of oil and secure the well have involved four
concurrent strategies:
• Working to activate the blow-out preventer (BOP) on the well using
submersible ROVs. This would be the preferred course of action, since it
would stop or diminish the flow at the source on the ocean floor.
Unfortunately, this effort has so far not proved successful.
• Work continues on a subsea oil recovery plan using a containment system,
placing large enclosures or containment chambers atop the leaks and
conducting flow from the ocean floor to a ship at the surface through a pipe.
As we anticipated, however, there have been technical challenges. This
system has never been used before at 5,000 feet. Engineers are now working
to see if these challenges can be overcome.
• We have begun to drill the first of two relief wells to permanently secure
the well. These wells are designed to intercept the original MC252 #1
well. Once this is accomplished, a specialized heavy fluid will be injected
into the well bore to stop the flow of oil and allow work to be carried out
to permanently cap the existing well. On Sunday, May 2nd, we began
drilling the first of these wells. A second drillship will mobilize to the area
to begin the second relief well later this week. This relief well operation
could take approximately three months.
• A fourth effort is known as a “top kill.” It is a proven industry technique for
capping wells and has been used worldwide, but never in 5000 feet of water.
It uses a tube to inject a mixture of multi-sized particles directly into the
blowout preventer. The attempt to do this could take two or three weeks to
We have succeeded in stopping the flow from one of the three existing leak
points on the damaged well. While this may not affect the overall flow rate, it
should reduce the complexity of the situation to be dealt with on the seabed.
Attacking the spill
We are attacking the spill on two fronts: in the open water and on the shoreline,
through the activation of our pre-approved spill response plans.
• On the water
On the open water, we have mobilized a fleet of 294 response vessels,
including skimmers, storage barges, tugs, and other vessels. The Hoss
barge, the world’s largest skimming vessel, has been onsite since April 25.
In addition, there are 15, 210-foot Marine Spill Response Corporation Oil
Spill Response Vessels, which each have the capacity to collect, separate,
and store 4000 barrels of oil. To date, over 97,000 barrels of oil and water
mix have been recovered.
Also on the open water, we are attacking the spill area with Coast Guardapproved
biodegradable dispersants, which are being applied from both
planes and boats. Dispersants are soap-like products which help the oil to
break up and disperse in the water, which, in turn, helps speed natural
Thirty-seven aircraft, both fixed-wing and helicopters, are now supporting the
response effort. Over 444,000 gallons of dispersant have been applied on the
surface and more than 180,000 gallons are available. Typically, about 2,100
gallons of dispersant is needed to treat 1,000 barrels of oil.
To ensure that adequate supplies of dispersant will be available for surface and
subsea application, the manufacturer has stepped up the manufacturing process,
and existing supplies are being sourced from all over the world. The cooperation
of industry partners has been superb and that is deeply, deeply appreciated.
We have also developed and tested a technique to apply dispersant at the leak
point on the seabed. As far as we are aware, this is the first documented attempt
to apply dispersant at the source. Early evidence suggests that the test has been
impactful, and we are working with NOAA, EPA, and other agencies to refine and
improve the technique. EPA is carefully monitoring the impact of dispersant and
is analyzing its potential impact on the environment and options for possible
future use.
• Actions to protect the shoreline
Near the shoreline, we are implementing with great urgency oil spill
response contingency plans to protect sensitive areas. According to the
Coast Guard, the result is the most massive shoreline protection effort ever
To ensure rapid implementation of state contingency plans, we announced
last week that we would make available grants of $25 million to Louisiana,
Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida.
To date, we have about one million feet of boom deployed in an effort to
contain the spill and protect the coastal shoreline, and another 1.3 million
feet are available. The Department of Defense is helping to airlift boom to
wherever it is needed across the Gulf coast.
Incident Command Posts have been or are being established at:
• Alabama: Mobile;
• Florida: St. Petersburg;
• Louisiana: Robert and Houma.
Thirteen staging areas are also in place to help protect the shoreline:
• Alabama: Theodore, Orange Beach and Dauphin Island;
• Florida: Panama City and Pensacola.
• Louisiana: Grand Isle, Venice, Shell Beach, Slidell, Cocodrie;
• Mississippi: Pascagoula, Biloxi and Pass Christian;
Highly mobile, shallow draft skimmers are also staged along the coast
ready to attack the oil where it approaches the shoreline.
Wildlife clean-up stations are being mobilized, and pre-impact baseline
assessment and beach clean-up will be carried out where possible. Rapid
response teams are ready to deploy to any affected areas to assess the
type and quantity of oiling, so the most effective cleaning strategies can be

A toll-free number has been established to report oiled or injured wildlife,
and the public is being urged not to attempt to help injured or oiled animals,
but to report any sightings via the toll-free number.
Contingency plans for waste management to prevent secondary
contamination are also being implemented.
Over 10,000 personnel are now engaged in the response, including
shoreline defense and community outreach.
Additional resources, both people and equipment, continue to arrive for
staging throughout the Gulf states in preparation for deployment should
they be needed.

Communication, community outreach, & engaging volunteers
We are also making every effort to keep the public and government officials
informed of what is happening.
BP executives have regularly briefed the President’s Cabinet and National
Security Council team, members of Congress, the governors and attorneys
general of the Gulf Coast states, and many local officials.
On the ground, in the states and local communities, we are working with
numerous organizations such as fishing associations, local businesses, parks,
wildlife and environmental organizations, educational institutions, medical and
emergency establishments, local media, and the general public.
BP is leading volunteer efforts in preparation for shoreline clean-up. We have
and will continue to help recruit and deploy volunteers, many of whom are being
compensated for their efforts, to affected areas. More than 14,000 calls from
volunteers offering their help have been received and over 4,000 volunteers have
been trained thus far.
Volunteer activities at this time are focused on clearing the beaches of existing
debris and placing protective boom along the shoreline. Our “adopt a boom”
program is proving very successful in engaging local fishermen in the response.
More than 600 fishing vessels are signed up to deploy boom and assist with the

There are five BP community-outreach sites engaging, training, and preparing
• Alabama: Mobile;
• Florida: Pensacola;
• Louisiana: Venice
• Mississippi: Pascagoula and Biloxi.
A phone line has been established for potential volunteers to register their
interest in assisting the response effort.

Coping with economic impacts

We recognize that beyond the environmental impacts there are also economic
impacts on the people of the Gulf Coast states. BP will pay all necessary clean
up costs and is committed to paying legitimate claims for other loss and damages
caused by the spill.
We have put in place a BP Claims Process. All claimants are being directed to a
toll-free number and a website and will be assigned to experienced adjusters
who will assist them in making their claim.
As an alternative, claimants can visit one of BP’s Community Outreach Centers
or claims centers.
The process is being expedited to make immediate payments to those who have
experienced a loss of income, while the overall claim is more fully evaluated. As
of today, we have paid out approximately $3.5 million.

Commitment to investigate what happened

BP is one of the lease holders and the operator of this exploration well. As
operator, BP hired Transocean to conduct the well drilling operations.
Transocean owned the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig and its equipment,
including the blowout preventer.

The questions we all want answered are: What happened on the seabed and
aboard the Deepwater Horizon and why did these things happen?
A full answer to those questions will have to await the outcome of a joint
investigation by the Departments of Homeland Security and Interior, investigation
by Congress, and an independent internal investigation that BP is conducting.
BP’s investigation into the cause of this accident is being led by a senior BP
executive from outside the affected business. The team has more than 40
people. The investigation is ongoing and has not yet reached conclusions about
incident cause. We intend to share the results of our findings so that our industry
and our regulators can benefit from the lessons learned.

Investigations take time, of course, in order to ensure that the root cause of the
failure is fully understood. But let me give you an idea of the questions that BP
and the entire energy industry, are asking:
• What caused the explosion and fire?
• And why did the blowout preventer fail?

Only seven of the 126 onboard the Deepwater Horizon were BP employees, so
we have only some of the story, but we are working to piece together what
happened from meticulous review of the records of rig operations that we have
as well as information from those witnesses to whom we have access. We are
looking at our own actions and those of our contractors, as is the Marine Board.
We are looking at why the blowout preventer did not work because that was to be
the fail-safe in case of an accident. The blowout preventer is a 450-ton piece of
equipment that sits on top of the wellhead during drilling operations. It contains
valves that can be closed remotely if pressure causes fluids such as oil or natural
gas to enter the well and threaten the drilling rig. By closing this valve, the drilling
crew can regain control of the well.
Blowout preventers are used on every oil and gas well drilled in the world today.
They are carefully and deliberately designed with multiple levels of redundancy
and are regularly tested. If they don’t pass the test, they are not used.
The systems are intended to fail-closed and be fail-safe; sadly and for reasons
we do not yet understand, in this case, they were not. Transocean’s blowout
preventer failed to operate.
All of us urgently want to understand how this vital piece of equipment and its
built-in redundancy systems failed and what measures are required to prevent
this from ever happening again. In this endeavor, you will have the full support of
BP as well as, I am sure, the rest of the industry.

Energy policy remains critical
Tragic and unforeseen as this accident was, we must not lose sight of why BP
and other energy companies are operating in the offshore, including the Gulf of
Mexico. The Gulf is one of the world’s great energy producing basins, providing
one in four barrels of oil produced in the United States. That is a resource that
powers America and the world every day, one our economy requires.


But before we can think about the future, we have to deal with the immediate
challenge of today.
BP is under no illusions about the seriousness of the situation we face. In the last
three weeks, the eyes of the world have been upon us. President Obama and
members of his Cabinet have visited the Gulf region and made clear their
expectations of BP and our industry. So have members of Congress, as well as
the general public.
We intend to do everything within our power to bring this well under control, to
mitigate the environmental impact of the spill and to address economic claims in
a responsible manner.
Any organization can show the world its best side when things are going well. It
is in adversity that we truly see what they are made of.
We know that we will be judged by our response to this crisis. No resource
available to this company will be spared. I can assure you that we and the entire
industry will learn from this terrible event, and emerge from it stronger, smarter
and safer.