BP, Deepwater Horizon, and Other Corporate Travesties

When BP’s Deepwater Horizon blew up, killing 11 rig workers, spewing into the Gulf of Mexico a record environmental hazard, we covered the story extensively, as did many news outlets. Yesterday, the BBC reported on a so called “temporarily suspended from new contracts with the US government.” Below are my personal observations, which I am sure some of you may be interested in.

NASA images reveal oil everywhere

NASA images from our earlier posts at the time

For then CEO Tony Hayward, and BP, the Deepwater Horizon episode was a PR catastrophe. As I read the story today though, it seems clear that whoever was doing the PR damage control, could have given the likes of  Chandragupta Maurya, Stalin, Lu Dingyi, even Goebbels, a real run for their money propaganda wise. This is my view, and here’s why.

It’s difficult, maybe even improper to prioritize anything above 11 people losing their lives because of a company’s incompetence. That said, the 11 counts of manslaughter BP supervisors plead guilty to, these at least seem to have met with a level of justice. The BBC report yesterday put this atop (almost) their report.

Oil men

President Obama, Admiral Allen, and the oil men

Let me point-by-point address some concerns some may have over BP’s “finalization” of Deepwater Horizon:

  • BP said they invested more than $52 billion in the United States - Moving on into civil responsibility however, what we see in the report is continual regurgitation of the fact that BP has invested tens of billions in the US. Let me point out here, if BP invested $50 billion dollars in the US, they took away one hell of a lot more than that. Period.
  • BP paid a “record” fine of $4.5-billion – Just as in the Exxon Valdez spill (and I said this when covering Deepwater Horizon then) once the public outcry died down, regulators were free to “minimize” this fine. Reuters correctly reported in 2010 a potential fine of some $4,300 barrel – and not for the dripping leak of 1,000 barrels a day Hayward and even the US’s Admiral Thad Allen “suggested” were leaking. (see the Allen’s transcripts here). Estimates range from 25,000 to 60,000 barrels a day escaped, even higher. Taking a figure of 50,000 barrels a day, times 90 days, multiplied by a maximum fine, we arrive at $19,350,000,000 not $4.5 billion.
  • BP is now under a “temporary” contractual band – The BBC reports Congressman Ed Markey, a senior member of the Natural Resources Committee in Congress, supposedly going on the warpath to half further BP leases. If Markey is not jockeying for position here, it’s at least certain the Obama administration already let the horse out of the barn. BP has extended its leases by 50 since Deepwater Horizon. Just who approved those? Somebody should find out, that’s what I say.
  • All cleaned up! – And here’s the real clincher for me. This whole affair is like some bean counter orchestration to ensure British Petroleum does not have to pay one more dime than necessary for the biggest environmental disaster in US history. AND, the impact is not over! This National Geographic report (not flagged in front of Gulf fisherman faces or yours) tells of the real impact, telltale signs the spill is still impacting the US.

I could make 100 points here. Like you, I simply do not have the time. This is the best I can do. Someone reading this may ask; “Why is now the time for BP and those involved to finalize Deepwater Horizon? 14 November 2012 was 8 days after incumbent President Barack Obama was reelected. Not that Mitt Romney would have rode in guns blazing in opposition to BP saving billions at your expense. Now, all the so called “Tea in China” won’t weigh on Obama and his part in this legacy.

Admiral Allen cozy with Obama

Thad Allen in his normal oil sucking position – from our post back then

What is former Admiral Thad Allen up to? He retired not long after President Obama made him National Incident Commander over the spill, quite actually. Allen stayed on past the horror of PR that was misleading “assumption”, past Tony Hayward, and then became a senior fellow at think tank RAND Corporation. Allen, interestingly, is now a top executive with Booz Allen Executive Leadership, which is a “thought leadership” provider concerning law enforcement and homeland security.

Tony Hayward? The former BP CEO has been off your radar too, now hasn’t he? Hayward was replaced (in shame) at BP, but went on to work for Anglo–Swiss multinational commodity trading and mining company Glencore. Glencore, some may remember, had revenues seized back in 2005, as part of a corruption investigation of the Republic of Congo. Various groups are still virulent as to Glencore’s involvement there.

As for Hayward, his venture firm Vallares merged with the Turkish oil firm Genel Energy in 2011 also. Hayward is listed as the CEO if the company which ironically is focused on wells in Iraq. As an added point of interest, Vallares was set up by Hayward, banker Julian Metherell, and none other than Nathaniel Philip Rothschild, youngest so of Jacob Rothschild, 4th Baron Rothschild.

My last BP mashup

My last BP mashup

What do I dislike about the whole BP Deepwater Horizon calamity? Just about every stinking aspect on BP’s and the government of the United States of America’s part, that’s what. Finally, 2012 has seen BP continually in the news over losses and write-downs. One has to wonder how much of that news can be classified as “poor pitiful BP” fodder, or at least I wonder. Funny, the year after the worst environmental disaster anybody in America ever heard tell of, BP was back in the black, raking in $5.3 billion.

It’s just my opinion, but I had to say what millions probably should be wondering about.

Comments

  1. Gerald Williams says

    Calm down, Phil. You’ll give yourself high blood pressure, migraines and strokes. Remember the old saying, “You can’t fight City Hall”? You sure can’t fight Washington or BP, so just let go of the things you can’t change and find something good today. Go for a walk in the park, smile at kids playing on swings, kick a pile of leaves, relearn how to smile, buy flowers for someone important in your life, get your PA a box of chocolates. Do something creative that doesn’t involve verbal violence, and does require verbal kindness. Life might be more fun that way. Don’t get mad, get happy!

    • Phil Butler says

      Thanks Gerald. I am happy, but no true happiness or the appreciation of it, without a little bit of rain. We have to say our piece, or are we just here to frolic?

      Kind advice though. Rewardning was this if only to know Rand Corporation some universities, and the other principals arrived to read the rant. :) Who knows, maybe I appealed to their overwhelming sense of fair play?

      One never knows.

      Thanks Gerald.

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