(Refiles to add dropped letter in "oil" in headline)
* Hayward hopes cap system will capture most of oil soon
* Says company has financial strength to weather storm
(Adds quotes, details)
LONDON, June 6 BP (BP.L) (BP.N) Chief Executive
Tony Hayward told Britain's BBC television a containment cap
fitted onto a leaking well in the Gulf of Mexico was capturing a
large proportion of the oil and he hoped the vast majority would
be under control soon.
Hayward, the subject of speculation that he may be forced
out of his position due to the political fallout from the
environmental disaster off the southern coast of the United
States, said during the interview on Sunday he had strong
support from BP's board.
"The containment cap is producing around 10,000 barrels of
oil a day to the surface which is being processed on the
surface," he said.
Asked what proportion that represented of the total oil
leaking, Hayward said: "At the moment it's difficult to say but
we would expect it to be the majority, probably the vast
majority of the oil."
"We are optimising the operation. We have a further
containment system to implement in the course of this coming
week which will be in place by next weekend. So when these two
are in place we would very much hope to be containing the vast
majority of the oil," he said.
Public and political pressure has been mounting on
London-based BP to cap its gushing seabed oil well and take full
financial responsibility for the clean-up and damage caused to
Gulf coast fisheries, wildlife and tourism.
Hayward said the company's balance sheet was strong and it
was generating a lot of cash flow. It suggests that despite a
plunge in the value of its stock it had the financial strength
to weather the storm and make a comeback.
"We are going to stop the leak, we are going to clean up the
oil, we're going to remediate any environmental damage and we
are going to return the Gulf coast to the position it was in
prior to this event," he said.
"That is an absolute commitment. We will be there long after
the media has gone making good on our promises."
Hayward side-stepped a question on whether the company would
go ahead with dividend payments to shareholders. Such a move
would be unpopular with many in the United States, who want the
company to spend its money on the clean-up and damages claims.
"We are going to take care of all of our stakeholders. We
have to care of our Gulf coast stakeholders; we have to take
care of our investors; we have to take care of our employees,
our retirees," he said.
The CEO said the board would decide at the end of July on
whether to pay dividends or not, taking into account all the
"BP is running very well today. It's generating a lot of
cash. It will to generate $30 to $35 billion of free cash flow
this year ... We have the financial strength to see through
this," Hayward said.
(Reporting by Estelle Shirbon; editing by Karen Foster)