During the proceedings, an attorney for the state of Louisiana pointed to an e-mail Hayward sent to an aide asking him to arrange a media briefing to counter information that was hurting BP stock. The share price rose after the briefing.
The deposition was part of ongoing litigation against the British firm and other companies involved in the April 20, 2010, Deepwater Horizon disaster. The government is among the parties suing BP and is expected to impose fines for Clean Water Act violations potentially totaling billions of dollars. Hayward is considered a critical witness, since he headed BP during and after the disaster until he was ousted in October.
The deposition, which has not been publicly released, was taken over several days in London beginning June 6.
During the deposition, attorneys questioned Hayward’s sincerity when he said he had victims’ best interest at heart. Hayward infuriated gulf residents during the height of the spill with his comment, “I’d like my life back.”
An attorney for the state of Louisiana, Allan Kanner, asked Hayward about a June 25, 2010, e-mail to BP’s former head of exploration and production, Andy Inglis. According to Kanner, it said, “Andy, can you make sure we get the technical briefing on the relief well out today? There are all sorts of ridiculous stories going around. It’s the main reason behind the share price weakness.”
At the time, the well was still spewing oil into the sea. It wasn’t capped until three weeks later. And it wasn’t until September that a relief well finally sealed what had become the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history.
The day of the e-mail, BP’s stock price closed at $26.53, a 6 percent drop from the previous day’s close. A BP executive, Kent Wells, held a media briefing three days later saying the relief well was only 20 feet away from the blown-out well. He also told reporters that the company had a high degree of confidence in the relief well and a backup one it was drilling.
By June 30, 2010, BP’s stock was back up to $28.35 — slightly higher than where it closed June 24, the day before Hayward’s e-mail.
Kanner asked Hayward if he remembered writing the e-mail. He said he didn’t.
“Was one of the goals of the technical briefings and the media blitz, if you will, to keep the share price up?” the attorney asked.
“No,” Hayward responded. “The objective of the technical briefing was to provide clear, coherent factual information as to what was and was not going on at any moment in time, and then people could form their own view as to whether that was good or bad for the share price.”