BP’s decision to try to publish an interim version of the Bly report to coincide with its second-quarter results on July 27 is part of a six-point plan the company’s board has adopted to handle the crisis engulfing the oil giant.
The report is said to be a “warts and all” assessment of what went wrong in the Gulf of Mexico and why. It is being authored by BP’s head of safety and operations, Mark Bly.
Publication of the report, even in interim form, will need careful handling. The risk of another gigantic public relations disaster is obvious if the document reads like an attempt by the company to avoid its share of responsibility.
But it’s also a chance for the BP to produce a credible version of events, albeit its own version, which if balanced between a mea culpa and a statement of reassurance would serve a dual purpose. First, it would help in the process of rebuilding the oil company’s reputation with the US public and politicians, and second, it would give shareholders a better idea of just how much trouble BP is in.
The report has yet to collect all the necessary evidence and witness statements but there’s more than enough to provide what so many are now craving – information. While BP will naturally have to hold back certain material for its own future legal purposes, it is sensible to start the disclosure process. It may even help persuade the world that BP should not be alone in shouldering all the blame.