BP chairman: ‘We are a different company’ from a year ago


BP Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg reassured shareholders today that the British oil giant has become a “different company” in the year since the deadly Deepwater Horizon disaster and asked for patience as the company continues to recover from the crisis.

“Everything we have done since Deepwater Horizon has had one aim; to win back the trust of shareholders and communities the world over,” Svanberg said in a speech kicking off BP’s annual meeting in London.

The company’s efforts have included making safe operations a top priority, overhauling management ranks, announcing the sale of more than $30 billion in assets and paying billions in claims to Gulf Coast residents affected by the massive oil spill, he said.

BP also temporarily cut dividend payments, an unpopular move among investors,which Svanberg described as “one of the hardest decisions we have taken.”

But it was an “absolutely imperative” act to preserve financial flexibility in the face of mounting spill claims, he said. And contrary to rumors, BP was not forced into cutting the dividend by the U.S. government, Svanberg added, noting that the topic did not come up in his meeting with President Barack Obama at the White House during the spill.  The dividend has since been restored, though at a lower level than prior to the disaster.

BP  faced protests Thursday at the annual meeting from environmental groups and others about the lingering effects of the Gulf spill. But the company was also expected to feel backlash from investors upset by management’s handling of the crisis.

One additional point of contention has been BP’s so far unsuccessful $16 billion attempt to form a partnership with Russia’s state-owned Rosneft to explore the Russian Arctic. Announced in January, a share swap deadline was due to expire Thursday. BP announced today that it negotiated an extension of the deadline to May 16.

The annual meeting was BP’s first since its Macondo well blowout on April 20, 2010, which killed 11 workers and triggered the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history.

After the accident, BP reported a loss of $4.9 billion for 2010, much of it due to $40.9 billion in pre-tax charges set aside for the spill.

“I know this has been a difficult year. I know you are disappointed,” Svanberg told one shareholder during a question and answer portion of the annual meeting. “But I can assure you I will do everything I can bring a prosperous future for this company.”

Brett Clanton

11 Responses

  1. Lyonesse says:

    They went off camera to giggle together.

    This is the reality of it.

  2. Spendmoney says:

    ‘We are a different company’ from a year ago
    That’s true! Everyone there now had nothing to do with the disaster. They are all innocent!

  3. Tex says:

    I can feel mike bone’s blood boiling.

    Do the crooked La politicians, the parish presidents, the Obama administration, the Mississippi folks, those from Miami and all the other ones that took advantage of the BP shakedown without being impacted by the oil spill, those that bought pickups and tasers, those that made sure they got part of the Obama “pie”, those that forced BP to dish out $60MM to build a scientifically proven useless barrier in La make your blood boil?

    I would think a number of issues make YOUR blood boil other than just BP.

  4. JJCX says:

    Isn’t that the same thing they said after the Texas City explosion !

  5. jklapper says:

    Actions speak much louder than words. And in this case I sure haven’t seen any actions that would indicate that this company should be allowed to do ANY form of business in THIS country…

  6. Geo. says:

    -mike bone —“Exxon stepped up from day one and learned their lesson. They did not deny their mess. And came back all the better for it.”
    ummm, no. Exxon didn’t step up.
    The truth is, Exxon resisted paying for the accident (after many court appeals, punitive damages were knocked down by a conservative Supreme Court) and resists paying for it to this very day!

  7. mark says:

    I don’t doubt they have changed. No more sweetheart contracts with no liabilities to inept contractors, Like Transocean and Haliburton.

  8. Muttley says:

    All you petroleum haters better wake up! It’s petroleum that makes this modern world possible, for at it’s root it’s farming (fertilizers and pesticides) and transport methods (fast ships and aircraft) that petroleum makes possible. Plastics, synthetic fabrics, computer parts all made possible by petroleum. Your precious automobile, even the electric ones, are 100% dependent upon petroleum for parts and lubrication.

    So all you petroleum haters, quit driving, flying, using computers, consuming electricity, grow your own food and weave your own clothing. Don’t be a hypocrite, start today!

  9. mike bone says:

    BS. You just bought a beach up so you would not have to clean it. A few of us know what that move was all about.
    You have more safety violations inside this country that everone else comvbined.
    Exxon stepped up from day one and learned their lesson. They did not deny their mess. And came back all the better for it.
    There was a time the prospect of finacial gain from a foreign concern whose proven disdain for American rules have indirectly killed would not float the boat. Now dangle a few pennies under our snotty nose and we can be bought and paid like any other third world puppet.
    I do not know what gets my blodd bioiling more when I see a warm fuzzy BP piece. These scumbage or the weak kneed American lackies they count on.

  10. Zilch says:

    The timing of the nuclear disaster in Japan makes the Deepwater Horizon incident seem less significant. We have tough choices to make when it comes to energy.

  11. MrOldMan says:

    Yeah! We’re making a huge profit again! That’s change.