Ex-BP oil disaster and fracking executive to lead big government projects, Government appoints John Manzoni as head of Major Projects Authority, which oversees HS2 and nuclear programme by Rowena Mason, February 3, 2014, The Guarian
A former oil executive criticised for his role in the BP refinery explosion, and whose last company was fined over 50 health and safety violations connected with fracking, has been appointed to lead the government’s Major Projects Authority. John Manzoni, who has worked in the oil industry for 30 years, will be responsible for overseeing big-budget projects including the HS2 high-speed rail line and the new nuclear programme. His new role will come under the remit of the Cabinet Office, where his ex-boss Lord Browne, a former chief executive of BP, is the lead nonexecutive director. Browne wrote a report last year on government execution and control of major projects.
While at BP, Manzoni was second-in-command to Lord Browne at the time of the Texas City refinery accident, one of the worst industrial accidents in US history. After the disaster, in which 15 people were killed and 170 injured, a confidential BP report found Manzoni had paid insufficient attention to safety and failed to spot clear warning signs. It accused him of failing to perform his duties in the run-up to the explosion and of engaging in a “simply not acceptable” standoff with a colleague. Regulators levied a then-record fine of $21m (£13m) on the company for breaching safety rules.
Manzoni said he would be stepping down from his role in charge of refining a month after the report was published, in 2007. He then took up a new role at Talisman Energy, a company heavily engaged in fracking in the US. In July 2012 Talisman was fined more than $60,000 for alleged violations in reporting hazardous chemicals at 52 sites in Pennsylvania. Among these were natural gas wells and sites of hydraulic fracturing; the company neither confirmed nor denied the allegations in a settlement with the Environmental Protection Agency.
The company was also criticised in 2011 for producing a 24-page colouring book for children explaining the merits of natural gas extraction, featuring a dinosaur called “Talisman Terry, your friendly Fracosaurus”.
Manzoni left Talisman in September 2012, and takes up his new Whitehall role from Monday. Francis Maude, a cabinet office minister, said Manzoni had “an impressive record of leading global operations and delivering complex, challenging briefs”. He added: “His experience will be invaluable to the civil service and to taxpayers. I’m delighted he is joining the Cabinet Office, and this is a great example of how we can bring talented men and women with private-sector experience into Whitehall.” Sir Bob Kerslake, head of the civil service, added: “It is fantastic that John Manzoni is bringing his extensive experience to lead the next generation of civil service project managers.” [Emphasis added]
[Refer also to:
Leaks found in shale gas wells: Que. Report, 31 were inspected ‘and more than half have problems,’ says envrionmental expert CBC News, January 5, 2011
“Things have been going too fast and all kinds of problems are occurring everywhere from all sides.” “Alberta-based Talisman Energy owns 11 of the wells…spokesperson Hope Deveau-Henderson said leaks are a common occurrence…they are a normal part of the exploration process.” ]