BP’s Hayward and the Climategate Inquiry

Last week, in the wake of the BP fiasco in the Gulf of Mexico, I wondered whether David Eyton, BP Group Vice President, Research and Technology, and former Vice President of BP’s Gulf of Mexico Deepwater, didn’t or shouldn’t have something more important to do than wade through CRU emails – like, say, R&D into blow out preventers. (And why climate scientists had been silent on the BP presence in this inquiry.)

There was another small puzzle in the Eyton appointment. Unlike most of the other appointees, he didn’t seem to be connected to Geoffrey Boulton’s Royal Society of Edinburgh or University of Edinburgh.

CNN has been carrying wall-to-wall coverage of the oil spill, with James Carville calling every day for criminal proceedings to be instituted against BP executives, saying that the notorious Louisiana prisons (seen in many American movies) would have a special place for BP CEO Anthony Hayward – who otherwise looks like Mr Bean Visits the Beach. (The situation is very difficult, but Hayward has sure done about as bad a job of dealing with the public as it seems possible to do.)

The answer to the David Eyton mystery lay not in his CV, but in Hayward’s CV.

BP appears to be a generous contributor to the Royal Society of Edinburgh and the University of Edinburgh (and Hayward himself personally.) Hayward has a PhD in geology from U of Edinburgh.

On March 2, 2009, Hayward was appointed a Fellow of Boulton’s Royal Society of Edinburgh.

On June 29, 2009, Hayward was awarded the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Science from Boulton’s University of Edinburgh.

I’ll bet dollars to doughnuts that Boulton talked to Hayward and that Hayward then asked Eyton to go on Boulton’s “inquiry”.

38 Comments

  1. ZT
    Posted May 29, 2010 at 2:43 PM | Permalink

    Thank you! Nice to see how the connections work.

    If BP spent a little more time dealing with their primary business and a little less time trading carbon offsets (http://www.bp.com/genericarticle.do?categoryId=2012968&contentId=2014394) or pontificating about ‘precautionary action’ on climate change (http://www.stsforum.org/Previous/2009/PLPDF/PL102_Eyton_D.pdf), they might have still had a viable company.
    snip

  2. Dave Andrews
    Posted May 29, 2010 at 3:03 PM | Permalink

    Steve, this sort of speculation is totally out of character for you judging from my several years of reading your blog.

    What’s biting you?

    Steve: Long story. BUt it relates to the “inquiries”.

    • Anton
      Posted May 29, 2010 at 5:51 PM | Permalink

      Unfortunately I agree with you… far far from the initial role of this blog.

      BP also funds research for Princeton, MIT, …. do we have to put in the same rubbish bag all PhD coming from these universities too ?

    • justbeau
      Posted May 29, 2010 at 7:02 PM | Permalink

      This topic does not seem unusual. The theory of AGW has depended very much on human networks (the team).
      Also, Steve has a sardonic sense of humor. The chumminess between Boulton and Hayward, and the largesse of petroleum companies, seem cynicism worthy.

    • Posted May 30, 2010 at 3:21 PM | Permalink

      Every time members of the Team don’t like a question Steve asks or an observation he makes, they bring out the “funded by big oil” accusation out of the blue.

      So, I would say, Steve’s observation in this case is both very relevant and very likely on the money.

  3. ZT
    Posted May 29, 2010 at 3:07 PM | Permalink

    Eyton is quoted in the NYT here: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/30/weekinreview/30rosenthal.html

    (For his deep water drilling ‘wisdom’, not his climatolgoical email reviewing skills).

    This is slightly off topic – but I am very puzzled by the fact that the only reliable mitigation for the current situation is a relief well, yet BP did not construct, or were not forced to construct, two (or more) wells in the first place. Why build a huge single point of failure? Can someone explain this? (Please snip if inappropriate).

  4. ZT
    Posted May 29, 2010 at 3:18 PM | Permalink

    mpaul – The smarter guys at BP realized that the risks that they were taking were not sustainable. Meanwhile the paper profits from carbon offset trading were considerably more alluring…

    http://www.bp.com/genericarticle.do?categoryId=2012968&contentId=2014394

    Nice to see the BP, Boulton, Eyton connection clarified – climatology always has such clear cause and effect relationships. (Well at least the whitewashing components do).

    • Pete Hayes
      Posted May 29, 2010 at 11:07 PM | Permalink

      Answer = $$$$$$$$$

  5. Les Johnson
    Posted May 29, 2010 at 3:34 PM | Permalink

    ZT: your

    This is slightly off topic – but I am very puzzled by the fact that the only reliable mitigation for the current situation is a relief well, yet BP did not construct, or were not forced to construct, two (or more) wells in the first place. Why build a huge single point of failure? Can someone explain this?

    A relief well needs to go into the same zone the blowout is coming from, and intersect the original well within about 15 cm.

    If you need to go into the same zone, then logically, you need to drill a relief well for the 1st relief well. And one for that. And another for that….ad infinitum.

    Also, if you drill a relief well into the zone of interest, with no problems, why drill another? Just complete the so-called relief well.

    • David Smith
      Posted May 30, 2010 at 2:26 PM | Permalink

      Les, a question – how does one drill a relief well and hit the target within 15 cm? That has to be quite a feat.

  6. Robert
    Posted May 29, 2010 at 4:38 PM | Permalink

    You will find that David Eyton worked directly for Lord John Browne on two occasions. Once as his executive assistant and later running Browne’s executive office in 2003. Lord John Browne (Hayward’s predecessor) recognised the potential of differentiating BP from the other oil companies by adopting “the precautionary principle”. Way before carbon offsets made it into mainstream thinking BP had internal “carbon trading” experiments to help make decisions on the way that they would invest money in oil processing equipment – base on the fact that the different development opportunities for BP would have different CO2 emissions. It would not surprise me to find that BP will have helped the UK and US governments to develop their thinking on CO2 trading. This is the nature of intimate relationship between big business and government. David Eyton’s selection for the Oxburgh enquiry is perfectly correlated to the role he has in BP and in turn to Bp’s connection to the UK establishment. BTW – Tony Hayward is a pretty grounded individual and in the response to GOM disaster I believe that he has been successful in marshalling the response to the spill in a very effective way – the technological challenges are immense.

  7. pyromancer76
    Posted May 29, 2010 at 4:55 PM | Permalink

    Steve, I very much appreciate the precision in all your considerations, here, BP Group VP Research and Technology, David Eyton. Yes, precisely, “didn’t or shouldn’t [he] have something more important to do than wade through CRU emails – like, say, R&D into blow out preventers.”

    snip – prohibited words

    And Eyton personally contributed to a whitewash. What, no interviews with critics?

    Thanks for your passion for the truth. I hope you are a model for many, many more like yourself.

  8. ianl8888
    Posted May 29, 2010 at 5:19 PM | Permalink

    Nonetheless, the crucial question is:

    why would Boulton approach Hayward for a panel member nomination in any case?

    Although at this point, any answer to that question is pure speculation – we have such limited knowledge here – my guess is for the appearance of balance … Eyton had no need to trawl CRU emails for Enquiry considerations and would not have been expected to

    … and now BP’s name is (drilling) mud. The English are by far the best in the world at pointed satire and I have often thought that this is because they have so much to practise on. Perhaps a case in point ?

  9. Fred
    Posted May 29, 2010 at 5:35 PM | Permalink

    Hmmmm very incestuous bunch here, scratching each others backs, not biting hands that feed each other.

    All lovely & cosy. Nice warm comfy fur.

    Since they now reporting Top Kill isn’t working I think Mr. BPean will be too preoccupied with saving BP from the armies of greedy US trial lawyers who have invaded the Gulf Coast to have time to sit on any more Boards.

  10. LearDog
    Posted May 29, 2010 at 6:22 PM | Permalink

    Two comments –
    1) Steve’s assertion that Boulton’s request went to Hayward is reasonable (agree personal connections likely helped there), Eyton would had to have cleared with him anyway. From Boulton’s point of view – he would have the comfort of appearance of balance (‘the evil oil company’) yet knowing that Eyton would do nothing to endanger BP’s business model.
    But there’s a problem – BP can’t be seen (certainly in light of the blowout) as standing up for anything less than technical excellence. CRU might be sloppy, biased and advocates for an outcome – but they still conducted their research as if the only thing that mattered was that they won the argument.

    BP can’t get anywhere CLOSE to endorsing CRU’s methodology – particularly the short cuts and confirmation bias – as those may be the very problems that led to the blowout in the GOM.

    2). As to ZT’s question of having to drill two wells for one – a) there are 10,000’s of wells in GOM (and 100,000’s worldwide) drilled safely without this approach and b) we will likely learn there were multiple failures that aligned to produce the catastrophe (casing, cement, negative leakoff test, riser fluid, automatic trigger, BOP shear rams) . It isn’t a single point failure, but a confluence of questionable practices and decision-making.

  11. TA
    Posted May 29, 2010 at 7:24 PM | Permalink

    I hate to say it, but considering what enormously shoddy practices the Team has already gotten by with, I doubt very many people are going to pay a lot of attention to the makeup of this committee. The establishment is wearing a happy face because their side has gotten through two “investigations” unscathed.

    Unless a major scandal can be uncovered, or something illegal has been done where there is recourse, I think this is most likely a dead end. I would love to see a major scandal or legal challenge to the whitewashes; however, more likely it’s all something of a waste of time.

    We didn’t really expect a genuine investigation, did we?

    The skeptic side (or should I say the science side) has won major points through climategate with the public, and unless I’m missing something, I think a focus on the science is what can take things forward the best from here.

  12. Colonial
    Posted May 29, 2010 at 7:41 PM | Permalink

    Steve,

    Your offer to bet “dollars to doughnuts” isn’t as good a deal as it was when my father ran a Spudnut shop (potato flour doughnuts) in 1950. Doughnuts were 5 cents then. It’s close to straight across now.

  13. Geoff Sherrington
    Posted May 29, 2010 at 8:17 PM | Permalink

    This coziness with all around is quite a worry. The Brits call it “to run with the hare and hunt with the hounds”. High technology management requires a clear focus on the main task, which in science/engineering is incompatible with buying the favours of diverse, often competing interest groups.

    I can’t vouch for the the first of the following being authentic, but it’s interesting if correct. The second is from USA Court transcripts.

    Anthony Hayward. http://cde.cerosmedia.com/1G4b504168bd15d012.cde/page/36
    At a meeting in a town hall at Houston in late 2006 in the wake of the Texas City explosion, the then head of exploration and production reportedly commented “We have a leadership style that is too directive and doesn’t listen sufficiently well. The top of the organisation doesn’t listen sufficiently to what the bottom is saying.”

    He’s saying what I’m saying.

    Reinforced by a reading of http://www.scribd.com/doc/9387680/Grynberg-Complaint

    “Plaintiffs in this action seek to recover from Defendants Plaintiffs’ proportionate share of bribes charged unwillingly and unknowingly to Plaintiffs and paid to foreign nationals to secure various oil rights from joint ventures in which Plaintiffs have an interest.” Anthony Hayward is listed as a Defendant, as part of BP management. There were tens of millions of dollars mentioned.

    One of my concerns is that people take these examples of “big business” as being customary, acceptable, normal. They are not, in my experience. They are even less likely when the chief is a scientist. (Anthony Hayward was a Ph.D. geologist at the time.)

    Sp please, readers, do not tar big business and scientists with the same bad tar brush. The majority of top scientific business leaders no not get themselves into circumstances like these, ever. Yes, there are rogues, but not many, and they are usually caught -unless the Establishment gives them a hug because Daddy was in the right Club.

  14. Posted May 29, 2010 at 10:35 PM | Permalink

    Mr. McIntyre You connections are tenuous. They have no foundation other than speculation on your part. You would castigate a non sceptic for suggesting that sceptics are backed by big business/coal/oil interests why is it ok for you to do the same?
    Some thoughts.
    1. relief wells. What is to stop a blowout on these?
    2. Bad weather – the amount of stuff floating in a small area is immense. A bit of bad weather could cause another disaster?
    3. Mud does not work. Just how much pressure are they fighting, or was it simply too much mud going the wrong way as well as in the hole?
    4. BP is one of many that were drilling in the same area. Do you think that others have better equipment – it is all down to cost.
    Nothing is 100% safe Ford actually decided that paying relatives of people who died in their vehicles fires was cheaper than fixing a problem (“the barbecue that seats four”), O-rings on NASA boosters (engineers warnings ignored)

    BP were unlucky it was them to hit a problem first. Before drilling at these depths shouldn’t equipment have been designed that can fix problems. Looking at some of the work of the ROVs they do not appear capable.

    • JohnB
      Posted May 30, 2010 at 11:41 PM | Permalink

      Chris Wallace of Fox News Sunday had a BP rep on his show today and brought up an interesting fact. Over the last ten years BP had close to 750 safety violations and the next closest competitor had 8. They had the issue with the Texas oil refinery blowing up and then also leaks in the Alaskan Pipeline.

      I could easily see a BP wanting to partner with an agenda that could allow it to create higher entry barriers to energy markets, especially if they could put smaller companies out of business.

      What’s interesting about the BP case is that there was some kind of heated discussion between BP and Transocean before the explosion happened. Apparently, it was a conversation where BP won out and it’s possible that some shortcut from that decision led to the disaster. Something to do with using seawater in their system over mud.

  15. EdeF
    Posted May 29, 2010 at 11:10 PM | Permalink

    I don’t think either Hayward or Eyton had to spend much time with the panel…
    this is a big, wealthy company with lots of assistants to do the grunt work. They conpile a brief, Eyton looks it over and you’re done. His time was minimal on this. Fait accomplis.

  16. ZT
    Posted May 29, 2010 at 11:59 PM | Permalink

    Of course, it is a matter of record that BP has funded the CRU:

    http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/cru/about/history/

    (see list of acknowledgments at the foot of the page)

    So, who better to have on the CRU inquiry, than a BP ‘precautionary principle’ expert?

    What BP (don’t) know about precautions – isn’t worth knowing.

    • EdeF
      Posted May 30, 2010 at 10:38 AM | Permalink

      A partial list of the funders of CRU, BP has a conflict of interest in
      evaluating the workings of CRU since they were one of its funders.

      “This list is not fully exhaustive, but we would like to acknowledge the support of the following funders (in alphabetical order):

      British Council, British Petroleum, Broom’s Barn Sugar Beet Research Centre, Central Electricity Generating Board, Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS), Commercial Union, Commission of European Communities (CEC, often referred to now as EU), Council for the Central Laboratory of the Research Councils (CCLRC), Department of Energy, Department of the Environment (DETR, now DEFRA), Department of Health, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Eastern Electricity, Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), Environment Agency, Forestry Commission, Greenpeace International, International Institute of Environmental Development (IIED), Irish Electricity Supply Board, KFA Germany, Leverhulme Trust, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAFF), National Power, National Rivers Authority, Natural Environmental Research Council (NERC), Norwich Union, Nuclear Installations Inspectorate, Overseas Development Administration (ODA), Reinsurance Underwriters and Syndicates, Royal Society, Scientific Consultants, Science and Engineering Research Council (SERC), Scottish and Northern Ireland Forum for Environmental Research, Shell, Stockholm Environment Agency, Sultanate of Oman, Tate and Lyle, UK Met. Office, UK Nirex Ltd., United Nations Environment Plan (UNEP), United States Department of Energy, United States Environmental Protection Agency, Wolfson Foundation and the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF). “

  17. Robert
    Posted May 30, 2010 at 4:51 AM | Permalink

    Looking at the link from ZT on the history of the CRU and BP (http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/cru/about/history/) – you find this interesting paragraph – “A main thrust of the Unit’s research programme since the early 1980s has, therefore, been global warming: the human contribution, the future climate response, and possible impacts of future climate change, with an increasing emphasis on adaptation to these impacts. But this was not to the exclusion of other research, much of it of commercial relevance. A few examples follow. From the late 1970s through to the collapse of oil prices in the late 1980s, CRU received a series of contracts from BP to provide data and advice concerning their exploration operations in the Arctic marginal seas. Working closely with BP’s Cold Regions Group, CRU staff developed a set of detailed sea-ice atlases, covering estimates of data quality and climate variability as well as standard climatological means, and a series of reports on specific issues, such as navigation capabilities through the Canadian Archipelago.”

    In the 1970s BP was seriously considering using tankers to transition through the Arctic NW Passage from the Atlantic to their Prudoe Bay oil field in Alaska to collect the oil. This was as an alternative approach to building the Alayeska pipeline (the chosen solution). The major market for oil at that time was on the US east coast and that is where the tankers would have gone. [The NW Passage would also have been used for transporting oil production equipment on barges].

    So ……….. interesting observations – 1) the extent of the Arctic ice at that time (60/70s) was low enough to even begin to consider using tankers via the NW Passage (and CRU were involved in the research)! The BP magazines from this time carried articles on the experiments and should still be accessible in archives. 2) In the 80/90s there was no way that tankers could have used on the NW Passage and I remember a senior member of the BP Tanker Co saying how silly that option had been. 3) The Arctic ice comes and goes. 4) There was a huge desire in the US Government and BP to get the Alaskan oil to market and the right option was chosen in the end.

  18. Mervyn Sullivan
    Posted May 30, 2010 at 5:12 AM | Permalink

    The modern day practice of ‘networking’ is a practice that should no longer be encouraged. My experience is that there is much too a close a link between ‘networking’ and ‘corrupt practices’. In my books, there really is no worse form of corruption than moral corruption!

  19. kim
    Posted May 30, 2010 at 6:42 AM | Permalink

    The critical question in the debate, is whether the participants are being ignorant or disingenuous. It is not an easy question for anyone but the individual himself to answer, and it is one over which I continue to agonize.

    Mann himself demonstrates this principle. Was he ignorant of his use of inappropriate statistics, or was it deliberate? I’ve been unable to satisfy myself about this question, despite spending way too much time upon it. If the question can’t be answered about one of the prototypes, how can it be answered about anyone, except in the depths of their own souls?

    The interesting dynamic is that vast proportions of the actors in this great drama can be reliably said to have started this journey in ignorance; they had no real conception of the complexities of the reality of climate. Now, though, the matter has changed. It is becoming very clear that the whole ‘AGW’ thing is rooted in an overly simplistic, that is, ignorant, view of reality. This increasing clarity causes the views of many of the previously ignorant to change. It leads to the honest profession of relative ignorance, or to the disingenuous persistence in the outdated belief in the dominance of CO2 in climate regulation.

    This, anyway, is how I settle the question of ‘ignorant or disingenuous’ in my mind. Nearly everyone involved in this whole process is having a dynamic change made in their knowledge. What will their paths be going forward?

    So, having once been ignorant, are the debaters now still ignorant but with a changed perspective, or are they lying through their teeth?

    That is the question.
    ================

  20. Steve McIntyre
    Posted May 30, 2010 at 5:20 PM | Permalink

    FP says:

    You[r] connections are tenuous. They have no foundation other than speculation on your part.

    Au contraire. Anthony Hayward’s connections to both the Universitgy of Edinburgh and the Royal Society of Edinburgh are completely documented. As are Geoffrey Boulton’s. The connections of bothe Geoffrey Boulton and the Royal Society of Edinburgh to the Muir Russell Inquiry are indisputable. David Eyton’s connection to Anthony Hayward is indisputable – he works for him.

    None of these connections is “speculative” as you allege. They are demonstrated as conclusively as anything can be demonstrated.

    I didn’t comment in this post on whether Eyton is or isn’t fit to be participate in this inquiry. I was commenting on a small puzzle – why Eyton participated in this inquiry (and continues to participate in this inquiry) given an important job in a large organization currently under great stress.

    It would be helpful if you occasionally read what I wrote before criticizing it. Perhaps you could shed some light on why climate scientists usually so quick to complain, didn’t complain about the appointment of an oil company executive to this inquiry in the first place? Just asking.

    • Thefordprefect
      Posted May 30, 2010 at 7:39 PM | Permalink

      I think you would agree that this statement from your post is speculation?
      I’ll bet dollars to doughnuts that Boulton talked to Hayward and that Hayward then asked Eyton to go on Boulton’s “inquiry”.

      Hayward is connected to UoE; is connected to RSoE; is connected to BP; is connected to a newspaper vendor in Leeds
      Geoffrey Boulton is connected to RSoE; is connected to BP
      You would therefore hint that something unwholesome may have occurred to get him on the committee.

      – snip – repugnant language

      Why would climate scientists complain about appointments? IF their science is sound then it will be difficult for hostile reviewers to find fault!

      Steve: Why do you think that it is “unwholesome” for Eyton to do what his boss asks him to do? People do so every day with no imputation of it being “unwholesome”. I was puzzled as to why a busy man like Eyton would have done this? Purely a puzzle. And especially why he continues with it under BP’s present circumstances. Aren’t there more important things for him to do? In present circumstances, I think that Eyton is somewhat precluded from endorsing tricks to hide things, so in that sense I am quite content that he continues on the committee, rather than resign from it.

      • Thefordprefect
        Posted May 31, 2010 at 6:40 AM | Permalink

        steves response
        – snip – repugnant language
        I do not think so – it simply showed (if I recall what I wrote correctly) that making assumptions about connections is not valid.

        Your use of the English language is amazing. By not accusing anyone of anything during the stolen CRU email scandle you managed to whip up a storm of accusations beyond belief. You now write nothing (according to you) about BPs involvement in the same scandle and manage to get 30+ responses:

        In battling this monster,…
        too a close a link between ‘networking’ and ‘corrupt practices’…
        (Well at least the whitewashing components do)…
        Answer = $$$$$$$$$

        Mike

        • kim
          Posted May 31, 2010 at 7:44 AM | Permalink

          Ah, the power of Steve. By doing nothing he ‘whipped up a storm of accusations beyond belief’.

          Ford, your use of the English language is not amazing but your credulity about the source of the storm of accusations is. How about examining the accused for some responsibility for the storm?
          ===========

      • Michael in Sydney
        Posted Jun 5, 2010 at 3:25 AM | Permalink

        “…think you would agree that this statement from your post is speculation?”

        It wasn’t a statement of fact it was speculation… but you misunderstood that.

  21. Tom Gray
    Posted May 30, 2010 at 9:31 PM | Permalink

    What effect will oil slicked water have on the development and propagation of hurricanes? If an existing hurricance came across a atr surface covered in oil, how would this affect its intensity? Would it decrease the evapoaration which is powering the storm?

    We have all heard of mariners spreading oil on the waters to dissipate a storm. Woild there be any effect due to the large amount of oil now in teh gulf.

    Maybe these climate supercomputers can be brought into the current crisis

  22. ZT
    Posted May 31, 2010 at 1:19 AM | Permalink

    I wonder if the CRU (once exonerated by Sir Muir and Eyton) will participate in the ‘independent’ inquiries into BP’s catastrophic fiasco?

  23. Posted Jun 8, 2010 at 12:33 PM | Permalink

    “What effect will oil slicked water have on the development and propagation of hurricanes? If an existing hurricance came across a atr surface covered in oil, how would this affect its intensity? Would it decrease the evapoaration which is powering the storm?”
    What if a storm takes up the oil and dispersant? then what a toxic flamable hurricane!
    There is already reports of marine life dying far away from the oil spill due to the disperant possibly, which is causing nearly as many problems as the oil itself.
    More info on nalco BP and corexit on my blog.

  24. Kenneth Fritsch
    Posted Jun 9, 2010 at 9:42 AM | Permalink

    Many of us are aware that BP has been a “friend of the family” of AGW mitigation and government regulation for some time. That is not surprising since the large established corporations are always favored by these types of regulations. I am sure that a number of BP executives and employees look very favorably on the work done by Phil Jones and other consensus climate scientists. These corporate guys are usually the friends and allies of the regulators until an incident occurs that temporarily requires the reulators to kick some related enities a– for political cover. It happened to BP as it did to Wall Street in the recent crisis.

    http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/politics/Once-a-government-pet-BP-now-a-capitalist-tool-95942659.html

  25. EdeF
    Posted Jun 17, 2010 at 10:43 AM | Permalink

    As of 6-17 BP is collecting 28,000 barrels per day. They have added
    a hose to the BOP device and plan to add additional resources that will
    eventually collect up to 60k barrels per day. Steve, your first
    estimate wasn’t that bad after all!

  26. Robert Thomson
    Posted Jun 18, 2010 at 9:51 AM | Permalink

    An article that does a decent job of explaning BP’s links to the environmental scene

    http://www.spiked-online.com/index.php/site/article/9016/

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