NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Once the object of ridicule and focus of outrage after the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, BP former chief executive Tony Hayward made a cameo Wednesday at the trial over the disaster, briefly showing up on a videotape in what may be his only appearance in the courtroom.
Hayward, who famously said "I'd like my life back" at the height of the spill, isn't expected to take the witness stand in the high-stakes trial to determine how much more BP and its partners should pay for the spill. While Hayward testified before Congress and gave a videotaped deposition for this trial, his role may be limited here by his lack of direct knowledge of the drilling operations on the Deepwater Horizon.
Still, attorneys for the U.S. government and Gulf Coast residents and businesses showed a 20-minute snippet of his deposition, projecting the video on a large white screen in the courtroom. The attorneys have said the London-based company bears most of the blame for the spill and they accused the company of putting profits ahead of safety by cutting corners on a project that was over budget and behind schedule.
"I believe that the role of leaders is very important in shaping the culture of an organization," Hayward said in the videotape.
He also said cost-cutting measures in the years before the 2010 spill did not have an effect on drilling operations, comments that differed from excerpts of a videotaped deposition from Kevin Lacy, who served as BP's senior vice president for drilling operations in the Gulf before resigning several months before the spill.
Lacy said BP slashed between $250 million and $300 million from its Gulf drilling budget from 2008 to 2009 while at the same time its production rose by more than 50 percent.
"I was never given a directive to cut corners or deliver something not safely, but there was tremendous pressure on costs," Lacy said.
U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier is presiding over the trial designed to identify the causes of BP's Macondo well blowout and assign percentages of fault to the companies involved. If BP is found guilty of gross negligence, it could be on the hook for nearly $18 billion.
The rig explosion killed 11 oil rig workers and the busted well dumped an estimated 172 millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf.
Barbier listened to the videotape as a lawyer asked Hayward about a speech he gave just five days before the blowout.