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BP's oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has topped the agenda at a National Oil Companies conference held in London. Executives expressed their support at the meeting for embattled BP CEO Tony Hayward.
Hayward was expected to attend Tuesday's conference, but pulled out at the last minute. He cited the need to devote more time in trying to resolve the Gulf of Mexico oil crisis.
The company's executive vice president, Steve Westwell, spoke in his place.
Westwell declined to comment directly on Hayward's future, saying dealing with the disaster is the top priority.
Steve Westwell, BP Exective Vice President, said, "Tony is the chief executive of our firm. Stopping the leak and cleaning up the environment is his top priority."
Westwell's presentation was interrupted by two Greenpeace demonstrators, before they were led away by security officials.
Emma Gibson, Greenpeace Activist, said, "We wanted to tell BP that they're taking their company in the wrong direction and we need to speed up progress to end the oil age."
But executives at the conference did not seem overly worried about the wave of criticism battering BP and the oil industry.
Instead, they were more concerned about lifting the six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling imposed by US authorities.
Francisco Vozza, Statoil, said, "I think scrutiny is a good thing. It helps everybody and it's in everybody's interest, so I don't think there's anything to recover from in that sense. That's my perspective."
Another keynote speaker expressed support for BP.
Shukri Ghanem, Libyan Oil Chief, said, "The only thing I don't understand is that they're trying to put the blame, all the blame on BP. But BP has partners, and some other companies they are outsourcing BP work."
But it will take more than support from the oil industry to save BP.
A recent Reuters poll shows about three-quarters of Americans believe neither BP nor the government responded quickly enough to the disaster, which has threatened wildlife and popular tourist beaches along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico.