Unbelievable but true: New BP honcho Dudley says company doesn't cut corners

Raise your hand if you think BP hasn’t cut corners on safety.

Anybody?

Oh wait! I see a hand up. Yes, Mr. Dudley? What’s that? You don’t think the company you are about to run cuts corners? Really?

Even though evidence shows that you could have purchased a $500,000 piece of equipment that could have prevented the Gulf disaster? Even though it has been thoroughly documented that workers were routinely discouraged from flagging safety violations because of pressure to produce? Really?

No, we’re not kidding. Robert Dudley, the man who is going to take over a company that has one of the worst safety and environmental records of all oil companies operating in this country, told CNBC’s Maria Bartiromo that he doesn’t believe the company cuts corners to reduce costs. And he doesn’t believe cutting corners led to the Deepwater Horizon disaster. And he thinks BP “has a very good safety record.” No kidding.

You can watch it yourself (look for the bit starting at 2:30), but here’s an exchange from a transcript of the interview:

BARTIROMO: How do you empower people on the ground but also hold them accountable? Is there too much of a culture of cost cutting? Cut costs at any cost.

DUDLEY: Well, if you look at what are [sic] cost reductions have been in the last two years it’s mainly been in overhead, it’s not been in our operations. I don’t believe we are cutting corners in our operations at all. What I do know is that we got to understand this very complicated accident. BP has been drilling in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico for over twenty years; has had a very good safety record; but something about this incident with what we are learning about the well, what we are learning about contractors, it’s a very interesting testimony coming out of the marine board in New Orleans gives a lot of insight in terms of the reliance on equipment. And I think that is one of the things that everyone will look at in the industry.

BARTIROMO: So you don’t think cutting corners lead [sic] to the accident?

DUDLEY: I do not. I do not. The well design we used something called the long string, I’ve heard people say they wouldn’t drill that way, there’s a tremendous amount of wells in the Gulf that have been drilled that way. The evidence doesn’t suggest that’s an issue for example. No I don’t think its cost cutting at all.

The Christian Science Monitor also caught the exchange, although we haven’t seen it reported elsewhere yet.

So there you have it. Looks like noises BP is making about improving safety will continue to be just lip service.