HOUSTON May 30 BP (BP.L) has hired a former
U.S. Department of Energy official as head of U.S. media
relations, as it fights to defend its reputation in the face of
political attacks and public rage over its oil spill in the
Gulf of Mexico.
Anne Kolton, former head of public affairs at the DOE,
starts this week, the head of group media at London-based BP,
Andrew Gowers, said on Sunday.
BP's media team has been overwhelmed by press and public
attention since the Deepwater Horizon rig, which BP hired to
drill an oil well, exploded and sank in April, killing 11
workers and unleashing what has become the largest oil spill in
The company has flown in staff from London to help deal
with media requests, but has also been forced to put its media
hotline on voicemail to process the many calls -- some abusive
-- that come in.
The company has also drafted UK-based public and government
relations firm Brunswick Group, which has a U.S. unit.
BP, one of the world's largest oil companies, has come
under fire by politicians and local residents who accuse it of
not doing enough to deal with the catastrophic spill. Criticism
has intensified since oil started washing up on beaches and in
swamps in Louisiana.
(Reporting by Tom Bergin; Editing by Peter Cooney)