Tuesday was possibly the best day that British oil giant BP
After months of defending itself from antipathy leveled at it by the American public and even its peers, BP has seemingly been at least partially exonerated by the presidential commission examining the tragic April 20 explosion that sank Transocean's
As Fred Bartlit, the chief counsel of the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, said at Tuesday's hearing, "To date, we have not found a single instance where human beings made a conscious decision to favor dollars over safety." That statement alone could save BP billions in fines and judgments from the hundreds of lawsuits that have been filed against it.
Following the tragedy, the company has been roundly criticized for its safety practices -- or lack thereof -- by other members of Big Oil such as ExxonMobil
As their efforts wound down, its members indicated that the errors apparently committed aboard the sunken rig, rather than being unique occurrences fostered by BP or its subcontractors, were indicative of an industrywide culture characterized by a cavalier attitude toward safety. They also indicated that such a culture could enhance a movement toward stricter regulations and stronger limits on drilling.
BP's minority partners in the blown-out well, Anadarko and Japan's Mitsui & Co., have thus far refused to contribute amounts reflective of their minority interests -- for which they had been billed a total of $4.6 billion as of earlier this month -- for cleanup in the Gulf and the compensation of spill victims. Instead, they have pointed to what they saw as BP's "gross negligence" in causing the spill, thereby absolving them of their contractual obligations. However, the commission's findings, as indicated by Bartlit's comments, would seem to obviate that stance.
Clearly BP, Halliburton
Fool contributor David Lee Smith doesn't own shares in any of the companies mentioned. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.