- Associated Press - Sunday, June 6, 2010

LONDON (AP) — BP PLC Group Chief Executive Tony Hayward said Sunday he won’t step down over the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, and he predicted his company will recover from the disaster.

Mr. Hayward told BBC television’s “Andrew Marr Show” that he would not quit and that he had the “absolute intention of seeing this through to the end.”

“We are going to stop the leak. We’re going to clean up the oil, we’re going to remediate any environmental damage, and we are going to return the Gulf Coast to the position it was in prior to this event,” Mr. Hayward said. “That’s an absolute commitment. We will be there long after the media has gone, making good on our promises.”

The executive said that a containment cap placed on the blown-out well in the Gulf had collected about 10,000 barrels of oil over the past 24 hours and that BP hopes a second containment system will be in place by next weekend.

“When those two are in place, we would very much hope to be containing the vast majority of the oil,”Mr. Hayward said. He said the new containment operation is designed to “be essentially hurricane-proof.”

Mr. Hayward said the spill was a one-in-100,000 to a one-in-a-million occurrence. “In this accident, based on what we understand so far, seven layers of protection were breached,” he told the BBC.

But Mr. Hayward rejected claims that the incident showed oil companies now were operating beyond their technical capacity.

“That’s, of course, a very valid concern,” he said. “It’s also worth just highlighting the industry has been exploring in the deep water for over 20 years and it has not had to contend with an incident of this sort before.”

He said that “what has to happen on the part of the industry — and certainly BP — is to move safety standards to a completely different level.”

The BP CEO has faced criticism over his response to the spill, particularly about a recently launched advertising campaign to promote the company’s efforts to fix the damage caused.

President Obama said the money would have been better spent on cleanup efforts and on compensating fishermen and other small business owners affected by the incident.

BP has estimated it will spend about $84 million through June to compensate for lost wages and profits caused by the oil spill.

Mr. Hayward confirmed he has not held direct talks with Mr. Obama over the incident but said the “working relationship between BP and the federal agencies involved in this has been exemplary.”

He said his company had been left devastated by the disaster, but he said BP would survive and has the “wherewithal to weather this storm and come back strongly.”

“BP is a very strong company; its operations today are running extremely well. It’s generating a lot of cash flow; it has a very strong balance sheet. Our reputation has been based on thousands of people, over a long period of time, in BP doing the right thing, and were are doing everything we can to do the right thing,” he said.

Mr. Hayward declined to say whether BP would pay a dividend to shareholders scheduled at the end of July, insisting the decision would be taken by BP’s board at the end of next month.

“We have to take care of our Gulf Coast stakeholders. We have to take care of our investors. We have to take care of our employees, our retirees. We’re going to take care of all of our stakeholders,” he said.

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