Story: Furious Growth and Cost Cuts Led To BP Accidents Past and Present

In a speech today, BP CEO Robert Dudley warned London's business leaders that an upcoming report and documentary from ProPublica and PBS FRONTLINE would paint an unflattering picture of the company’s safety record. He defended BP’s record on safety but said the company would continue to work to improve.

Speaking at an annual British business conference, Dudley said:

“The company had changed very significantly after the events of Texas City in 2005. So I do not believe that BP is an unsafe company. There will be some documentaries run, I think tomorrow night in the US, that paints that picture of the company.”

ProPublica and PBS FRONTLINE having been working since June on a documentary about BP’s safety record that will air on most PBS stations at 9 p.m. Tuesday. (Check local listings). ProPublica will also publish an investigation detailing the company’s missteps and one EPA attorney’s decade-long effort to force BP to improve its operations and comply with federal law.

In response to a question after his speech, Dudley said that BP will focus more on safety, in part because of public perception and pressure to do so.

“What I will say is, we have no choice. We need to do everything we can to avoid any kind of industrial event like this so we’re just going to move to yet another higher standard on this to make sure we have additional checks and balances. People say ‘You’re going to ruin the performance of the business’ but right now I think we just need to make sure we understand the risks completely through our business and put in place an organization that will provide yet another system of checks and balances. […] Everyone’s very serious about this, I don’t think this is going to be a difficult thing to further embed in the organization.”

Since those comments weren’t part of Dudley’s prepared remarks, they don’t appear in the version posted on BP’s website.

Three days before his speech in London, Dudley declined to testify before a House committee that is investigating the BP explosion in the Gulf of Mexico.

“As I am sure you can imagine,” he wrote to the committee, “I have an enormous amount of work to do transitioning into this role and am very focused on ensuring the right decisions are made for the future of the company and the safety of our workforce.”