The top executives of BP, chastened by a string of safety, environmental and legal problems in their American operations, pledged yesterday to restore credibility by bringing in outside experts, being more transparent and investing more heavily in safety and maintenance.
It was the most public acknowledgment by senior executives of the string of problems.
Lord Browne, the chief executive of BP, and Robert A. Malone, the newly appointed chairman of BP America, said in a telephone interview that an oil spill in Alaska, an explosion last summer at the company’s Texas City, Tex., refinery, and violations by BP traders in the propane business were unrelated but would have to be addressed.
“Texas City was a tragedy that we will remember forever,” Lord Browne said.
He added: “We have to get the priorities right, and Job 1 is to get to these things that have happened, get them fixed and get them sorted out. We don’t just sort them out on the surface, we get them fixed deeply.”
BP announced in London on Tuesday that it would add $1 billion to spending over the next four years to improve safety at American refineries and to repair pipelines in Alaska, in addition to the $6 billion it had previously planned.
And BP is establishing an advisory board of seven experts, four from outside the company, to review its safety position.
Some of that committee’s findings will be made public, Lord Browne said. “We will make sure that things are transparent, to the level of relevance, salience and interest that is appropriate,” he said. The company has previously made public the work of advisory committees in Indonesia and on a pipeline running from Baku, Azerbaijan, to Ceyhan, Turkey.
This past March, BP spilled thousands of barrels of crude oil over two acres of tundra, the largest oil spill on the North Slope of Alaska. This summer, to fix the problem, the company is building some bypass pipelines, and will forgo production of about 40,000 barrels a day, of which 11,000 barrels is BP’s share, for up to a month.