U.S. News

BP chief apologizes for "small people" remark

BP Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg speaks to the media after a meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama at the White House in Washington, June 16, 2010. REUTERS/Jim Young

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - BP Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg on Tuesday apologized for speaking “clumsily” by referring to those hurt by his company’s oil spill as “small people.”

“I spoke clumsily this afternoon and for that I am very sorry,” Svanberg said in a statement, after remarks he made following a White House meeting with President Barack Obama earlier on Wednesday drew widespread ridicule and condemnation.

“What I was trying to say -- that BP understands how deeply this affects the lives of people who live along the Gulf and depend on it for their livelihood -- will best be conveyed not by any words but by the work we do to put things right for the families and businesses who’ve been hurt,” Svanberg said.

After meeting Obama, the BP executive, who is Swedish, apologized for the oil spill and tried to convey his concern for those affected by the environmental disaster.