Skip to main content

Allen gives BP a mixed grade

By Martina Stewart, CNN Associate Producer
Click to play
Thad Allen grades BP
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Thad Allen gives BP's performance in oil spill cleanup a mixed grade
  • BP did all it could do to cap the well head, Allen says
  • But he said the company needs to improve how it deals with people

Washington (CNN) -- As he reflects on lessons learned from dealing with the Gulf oil spill, the man charged with leading the federal response gave embattled energy giant BP a mixed grade Sunday.

Asked on CNN's "State of the Union" to give BP a grade from "A" to "F," retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen assessed different aspects of the company's response to the blown out well.

"At the well head, I'm not sure there's any oil company that could have done anything more than they did," Allen told CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley. "The technology that was needed to be brought in for other parts of the world, was [brought in]. It took a long time to engineer it. It took a long time to install it. But, ultimately, it helped us put the cap on and control the well. So I give them fairly good marks there."

But Allen added that where the energy giant's performance has been lacking is in having a human touch.

"What BP is not good at: they're a large global oil production company. They don't do retail sales or deal with individuals on a transactional basis. Anything that's involved, that has been a real struggle for them," Allen said.

He added, "It's something they don't naturally have a capacity or a competency in their company and it's been very, very hard for them to understand. And that's the lens by which the American people view them and that's the area where they need to improve the most."

Video: BP oil clean up 'still substantial'
Video: Oil still threatens Gulf waters
Video: Oil's big vanishing act continues
RELATED TOPICS
  • Gulf Coast Oil Spill
  • BP
  • Thad Allen

Allen also reflected on what the oil industry has learned in terms of production technology in the course of trying to bring the rogue well under control.

The former Coast Guard official said technology of the sort used to cap the well must be made a part of deepwater drilling going forward.

"Oil production in the Gulf of Mexico was done by wells that were on the bottom of the ocean with all the technology on the bottom of the ocean where there was no human access and all the oil was moved by pipes," he said. "We've had to bring in technology from the North Sea and off the coast of Africa to build these floating risers to create a production system that's able to deal with this spill.

"I think what everybody's learned moving through this is that there's going to have to be a different type of production method out there that includes the type of technology that they've used to cap this well and capture the oil and that needs to be a permanent part moving forward."

Asked whether the new technology could be integrated by November when the Obama administration's moratorium on deepwater drilling is set to be lifted, Allen pointed out that the necessary technology "has already been built around this well."

He added that the oil and gas industry is already starting to consider forming a consortium "to keep this type of equipment and take a look at it. And that's going to have to be a fundamental part of this."

Oil disaster: Tracking the numbers
Part of complete coverage on
Impact Your World: How to help
A number of organizations are recruiting volunteers to help clean up coastal areas
Depths of the disaster
Get the numbers, see the images and learn how the worst U.S. oil spill has changed lives, ruined economies and more.
iReport: Gulf journals
These stories help us look into the lives of the hardworking people of the Gulf as they watch this disaster take its toll.
Send your photos, videos
Is your area being affected by the spill? Help CNN track the oil slick and its effects on Gulf Coast communities and wildlife
Map: What's been hit
Interactive map locates oil sightings and stories
Daily developments
How big is the slick? What's being affected? What's being done?
Timeline
Track the major developments of the oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico
Berms, booms, blowouts: Glossary
Breaking down the jargon of the disaster
 
Quick Job Search