I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Tony Hayward, CEO of oil giant BP, and discussed his take on the oil spill. But before I could interview him I had to first find BP headquarters. This involved several trips to London and several conversations with receptionists at BP over a period of a couple weeks. They obviously weren’t very interested in letting me know where their CEO was. This may be due to the fact that he was working hard on finding a solution to the continuing oil spill in the gulf, or perhaps he is just naturally reclusive.
After following several good leads from BP employees in the United States I was able to find the location of the somewhat secret American BP headquarters in Texas. In the small town of Bryans Mill, in East Texas, there is a surprisingly large BP Gas station. In fact, it is rumored to be the largest BP Gas station in the world. Despite its well maintained appearance and massive size, it only gets about 100 customers a day. However, for those inside the loop in BP’s executive offices, it is also known as a top secret boardroom and luxury living space for executives in times of public crisis emergencies.
I did have a scheduled interview with Tony Hayward so I was led, by a guide, to the back of the gas station where a door concealed inside a fake rock lead down into the bunker below. I was given a tour of some of the facilities which included a bowling alley, a swimming pool, and a cafeteria.
I met Tony Hayward in a room with Victorian furniture and a small buffet setup with finger sandwiches and tea. He explained to me that for security reasons he travels frequently every couple weeks to a different secret location. I started by asking him some general questions about the oil spill, and received some surprising answers:
Me: A lot of scientists and gov’t officials want to know how much oil is actually leaking, do you have any idea how bad the spill is?
Tony Hayward: Why would I want to know how big the oil spill is?
Me: Wouldn’t that help with responding to the spill, – – -knowing how much there is to clean up?
Tony Hayward: Well, you know what they say “Out of sight, out of mind.” Anyway, I think most of the oil disappeared, but we’re still looking into that.
Me: It seems that some of the oil has already started washing up onto beaches, and that is wrecking havoc with the already fragile economy in the gulf, what do you plan to do to help the economy there recover?
Tony Hayward: Well, you know oil is good for a lot of things. PB has been pumping up oil for over a century, it’s like a magical treasure waiting to be found it comes right out of the ground and we just put it into barrels and sell it like hotcakes! Did you know that we made four billion last quarter?
Me: No, but a—
Tony Hayward: Right, well, since oil is so amazingly fantastic, and is used to power a vast majority of the world’s automobiles and all the airplanes, we’ve decided to build an amusement park along the marshes and beaches where the oil has washed up.
Me: Well, do you think that is really good idea considering up toxic oil is?
Tony Hayward: Well, it’s only dangerous if you drink a lot of it. We plan on having boat tours of the oil in the wetlands so that people can see the oil up close and not be afraid of it. We even plan on offer camp outs where we sing about how wonderful it is to have oil. There will also be a petting zoo where our customers will be able to interact with animals were hoping to get the oil off them.
Me: What about the accusations that the dispersant you’re using is toxic? Apparently some dolphins have died and people are blaming it on the dispersant.
Tony Hayward: I haven’t heard that, but I’ll look into it further. In fact, dispersants are quite healthy for you! I usually sprinkle a little dispersant on my Cheerios each morning.
Me: OK, not sure if that’s a good idea, but when do you think the leak will be stopped?
Tony Hayward: Well, I’m not really sure, the whole relief will thing to get done in August, or rather maybe in December. But you have to admit, this crisis has been a boon for the media like CNN and the BBC. So I guess it sort of BP’s way of helping the economy, a stimulus for reporters if you’d like.
Although I didn’t get the answers I was looking for, I thanked Tony Hayward, and left the BP bunker for good. Maybe an interview with a Thad Allen, or another Coast Guard official could get to the bottom of how bad the spill really is.