Beyond Prudhoe
By Abrahm Lustgarten, Fortune reporter

(FORTUNE Magazine) -- New BP America president Bob Malone spoke with FORTUNE's Abrahm Lustgarten about Prudhoe Bay and the company's string of problems.

You're two months into a tough job. How's it going?

Alaska is the part that I didn't anticipate. That first week [of Aug. 7] was probably the most difficult in my career. Now we are out of crisis mode and into managing this for safety and integrity.

You shocked the markets by saying you'd shut down a full 8% of U.S. production, then moderated a few days later by shutting off only half that. Was there pressure to keep Prudhoe Bay open?

I did not feel any pressure to make that decision, internally or externally. We felt comfortable that there was sufficient data to make a good risk-based decision.

You didn't run pigs [devices that inspect the inside of pipelines] in Alaska because you felt that your ultrasonic method was better. Are you rethinking that companywide?

Absolutely. Normally smart-pigging identifies inclusions or corrosion spots, and you come back with UT technology later. UT is the highest level of assurance you can get--much more accurate than pigging. Now we know that there's a gap, and pigging will become part of our procedures.

Besides the pipeline, BP has weathered a litany of crises, from the Texas fire to a propane trading scandal. Are these all really isolated events?

Texas City was a tragedy. And when I listen to the trader tapes there is no doubt, what happened may not have broken the law, but it broke our values. But in my visiting facilities across the country and talking to employees, I cannot see a systemic problem in BP America.

Does BP as a "green" brand still make sense?

I understand if people want to say, "How can you have something like this happen and you are supposedly a green company?" But we're investing heavily in alternative energy, and we are putting our money where our mouth is.  Top of page