Exxon Mobil Corp's chief executive officer disputed findings from a White House commission that lax industry practices were to blame for last year's massive BP oil spill.
At a conference in Austin Thursday, Rex Tillerson, CEO of the world's largest publicly traded oil company, sought to insulate Exxon and the industry from blame for the incident, the worst offshore spill in U.S. history.
"I do not agree that this is an industrywide problem," Tillerson said, referring to a report released on Wednesday by the White House spill commission that pins some of the blame on lax industry practices. [ID:nLDE70507C]
"The commission did not investigate the entire industry," Tillerson told reporters. "It seems to ignore years of record of good performance, so I do not agree with that conclusion."
BP's mile-deep Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico ruptured on April 20, 2010, causing an explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig that killed 11 people, spewed more than 4 million barrels of oil into the sea and spurred a temporary ban on U.S. deepwater drilling.
The accident was "a painful reminder" of the harm that can result from failure to uphold performance standards, Tillerson said.
Tillerson pointed to the Exxon Valdez disaster in 1989, which spilled 257,000 barrels of oil into Alaska's Prince William Sound.
"It was a low point for our company, but also a turning point," Tillerson said.
Exxon is one of five major international oil companies in a $1 billion venture to develop a subsea spill containment system that could be quickly deployed in the event of future accidents.
Questioned on the state of the global economy, Tillerson said he saw a "slight uptick" in the manufacturing sector.
"Generally things feel stable, and the sense is that they are improving," Tillerson said. "The question that's still out there is the pace."
Shares of Exxon were up 0.5 percent at $75.06 in afternoon trading. (Writing by Chris Baltimore; Editing by Derek Caney and Lisa Von Ahn)