LONDON – BP Chief Executive Tony Hayward was a “no-show” at an oil industry meeting in London today, but his presence and the fact of the Gulf oil spill was very much present. Filling in for Hayward was BP’s Chief of Staff Steve Westwell. In his comments he called the spill “…a tragic accident with severe financial consequences and a profound impact on BP.” Those comments were interrupted by Greenpeace protestors who held an anti-BP banner declaring the “The age of oil is over!” They were promptly hustled away by security guards. That wasn’t the only sniping at BP. While generally supportive, Jay Pryor, Global Vice President of oil rival Chevron called the spill “preventable.” We asked him, if Chevron was running the rig, could the accident have been avoided. “We, of course, are competitors and our practices ARE different,” he replied, “but a number of things went wrong.” Steven Newman, President and CEO of Transocean, the owners of the Deepwater Horizon rig, was careful with our questions, too. We asked him whether he would share blame with BP for the accident. “I’m not going to apportion ‘blame’ until I see the conclusions of an investigation now being conducted.” He did not hold back, however, regarding the moratorium on drilling in the Gulf. “There are things the administration could implement today,” he told us, “that would allow the industry to go back to work tomorrow without an arbitrary six-month limit.” And as for the White House’s efforts to “piggy-back” clean energy initiatives on top of spill concerns, Newman bluntly retorted : “The Obama administration should focus on fixing the leak!” After the string of public relations blunders by Hayward, including a recent luxury yachting event, we asked BP’s Westwell what his boss was up to. “He’s staying on top of cleaning the spill,” Westwell told us, “but his number one priority is being Chief Executive and he’s busy in London now.” Hayward’s probably happy he “sailed away” from THIS London gathering.