BP Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg announced at the White House today that BP cares about “the small people” harmed by his company’s oil spill, contradicting widespread assumptions that the company was looking to screw them.
Svanberg, who emerged just moments ago from a meeting with President Obama and other top White House officials, said he sensed Obama’s concern with people in the Gulf who are more mediocre than senior BP officials. BP is committed to addressing any “legitimate” claims against the company.
Speaking just before Svanerg and other BP officials appeared on the White House driveway to talk to reporters, Obama announced that BP had agreed to set up a $20 billion fund to take care of those with claims against the company. Obama noted that the fund does not include additional claims that could be filed in court by states or private citizens.
Svanberg decline to comment on reports that BP cut back on safety measures with regard to the ruined rig in order to save money.
But he did say he was sorry.
“I would like to take this opportunity to apologize to the American people on behalf of all the employees in BP, many of whom are living on the Gulf Coast,” he said. “Through our actions and commitments, we hope that over long term that we will regain the trust that you have in us.”
Over the very long term or after BP goes bankrupt and renames itself “Leakfree Oil” or something.
Obama and Svanberg both called the meeting “constructive.” In politicalspeak, this means that everyone was direct but got along. The term is a step removed from “frank,” which means people were yelling at each other.