BP chief says Gulf oil spill will not halt industry

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The head of the British oil group BP, Tonay Hayard, said Monday in an interview that its massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico will change the industry but not stop it.

"The United States and the world need this oil," Hayward told the daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ). "Almost 30 percent of US oil production comes from the Gulf of Mexico," he added.

"That is why I think this accident will change the oil industry but not stop it" from developing offshore resources, Hayward said.

The BP boss nonetheless acknowledged that "this accident will undoubtedly lead us, and the entire sector, to consider the risks and how to manage them."

An estimated 5,000 barrels, or 210,000 gallons, of oil have spewed into the Gulf every day over nearly a month since BP's Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded and sank, dragging the oil group into an environmental nightmare.

Hayward reiterated a pledge given by BP to "follow up on all legitimate requests for compensation" from the disaster.

BP faces costs estimated in the billions and its share price has plunged as US Congressional hearings revealed multiple warning signs that were overlooked before the April 20 blast.

The huge oil spill could be sucked into a powerful ocean current that would stream it toward fragile coral reefs in the Florida Keys, an expert has warned.

Hayward told the FAZ: "BP is a very big company and has the means to overcome the cost of this incident."

© 2010 AFP

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