BP CEO Tony Hayward responds to danger... by selling his shares

According to Bloomberg:

BP Plc was struggling to seal cracks in its Macondo well as far back as February…

It took 10 days to plug the first cracks, according to reports BP filed with the Minerals Management Service that were later delivered to congressional investigators. Cracks in the surrounding rock continued to complicate the drilling operation during the ensuing weeks. Left unsealed, they can allow explosive natural gas to rush up the shaft….

BP used three different substances to plug the holes before succeeding, the documents show….

In early March, BP told the minerals agency the company was having trouble maintaining control of surging natural gas, according to e-mails released May 30 by the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which is investigating the spill.

While gas surges are common in oil drilling, companies have abandoned wells if they determine the risk is too high. When a Gulf well known as Blackbeard threatened to blow out in 2006, Exxon Mobil Corp. shut the project down….

On March 10, BP executive Scherie Douglas e-mailed Frank Patton, the mineral service’s drilling engineer for the New Orleans district, telling him: “We’re in the midst of a well control situation.”

The incident was a “showstopper,” said Robert Bea, an engineering professor at the University of California, Berkeley, who has consulted with the Interior Department on offshore drilling safety. “They damn near blew up the rig.”

In the face of this grave threat, BP CEO Tony Hayward, of course, took decisive action. Hayward sold his shares:

Tony Hayward cashed in about a third of his holding in the company one month before a well on the Deepwater Horizon rig burst, causing an environmental disaster.

…he avoided losing more than £423,000 when BP’s share price plunged.

P.S. There’s no evidence Hayward sold his shares because of the dangerous well. But, as CEO, Hayward should at least have known when he sold his shares that BP had a very dangerous well on its hands.

Posted by James on Tuesday, June 22, 2010