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BP's Hayward to strike emotional tone

By Steve Hargreaves, Senior writer


NEW YORK, (CNNMoney.com) -- BP Chief Executive Tony Hayward, slated to face an angry Congress Thursday, will strike an emotional plea to Gulf residents, acknowledging the loss of life and reminding them of the company's long standing commitment to the region.

"When I learned that eleven men had lost their lives in the explosion and fire on the Deepwater Horizon, I was personally devastated," according to a transcript of Hayward's prepared remarks.

"I want to speak directly to the people who live and work in the Gulf region: I know that this incident has profoundly impacted lives and caused turmoil, and I deeply regret that," he continued. "Indeed, this is personal for us at BP. For decades, the people of the Gulf Coast states have extended their hospitality to us and to the companies like Arco and Amoco that are now part of BP. We have always strived to be a good neighbor."

Hayward has been criticized for a sometimes callous approach to the disaster, especially the comment a few weeks back that he'd "like his life back" and that the "environmental impact of this disaster is likely to have been very, very modest."

Hayward goes on to detail the efforts BP is taking to stop the leak and clean the coast - comparing the effort to the space program - and then describes the company's investigation into what caused the accident.

Of the seven areas under investigation, four are related to the device that should have capped the well once it exploded - a device that was not made by BP.

Two are related to the well's design and one to the tests that should have been performed to detect problems.

In Congressional testimony Tuesday, oil executives from other companies said their wells would not have failed because they would have been designed differently.

BP has been criticized by lawmakers in recent hearings for putting profits over safety. According to congressional documents and interviews with workers on the rig when it exploded, it appears BP chose faster, cheaper techniques for drilling this well, sometimes against the advice of their sub-contractors.

Thursday's hearing, set for 10 a.m. before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, is likely to be contentious.

"He's just going to say I'm sorry, its not going to happen again," Committee member Bart Stupak, D-Mich., told CNN. "It's not good enough. Members are frustrated. They're going to take his hide off, as they should."

Hayward raises several key questions during his opening testimony, although will likely provide little in the way of closure.

"How could this happen? How damaging is the spill to the environment? Why is it taking so long to stop the flow of oil and gas into the Gulf?," he said."Can we as a society explore for oil and gas in safer and more reliable ways? What is the appropriate regulatory framework for the industry?

"We don't yet have answers to all these important questions."

-CNN's Dana Bash contributed to this report To top of page

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