Tensions in the executive suite contributed to the disaster at BP’s Texas City refinery, according to an internal confidential report described in The Financial Times.
British Press Association Reporter of the Year Sheila McNulty writes that John Mazoni, chief executive of refining "should have done a ‘much deeper dive’ into the true state of the facility after ‘clear warning signals’ from previous accidents."
Until the explosion killed 15 people and injured 500, Manzoni had been regarded as a possible succesor to Lord Browne as BP’s chief executive. The confidential report, dated February 2007, was from a team headed by BP’s Wilhelm Bonse-Geuking.
McNulty writes that the report clears Manzoni of "serious neglect or intentional misconduct." However, it concludes he should have taken more steps to consider and mitigate the risks before the disaster.
And why didn’t Manzoni do his job?
The report, according to McNulty, cites a "standoff" between him and Mike Hoffman, then vice president for refining and marketing, upon whom he was relying for information. This tension, she writes "contributed to Mr. Manzoni’s lack of understanding of the risks at Texas City."
Hoffman retired this year.
BP told the FT: "We have no comment. The team found no evidence that anyone acted in bad faith or violated BP’s code of conduct. As a matter of policy, BP does not coment on personnel matters."
It’s one thing when children can’t get along and don’t play nice, but big oil executive feuds apparently can have deadly consequences.