Too bad corporations aren’t treated like people.1 BP would be eligible for extraordinary rendition, and perhaps even a brief, three or four year stay in Guantanamo Bay. Aiding and abetting terrorists, don’t ya know.
LONDON — The oil giant BP faced a new furor on Thursday as it confirmed that it had lobbied the British government to conclude a prisoner-transfer agreement that the Libyan government wanted to secure the release of the only person ever convicted for the 1988 Lockerbie airliner bombing over Scotland, which killed 270 people, 189 of them Americans.
The acknowledgment came after American legislators, grappling with the controversy over the company’s disastrous Gulf of Mexico oil spill, called for an investigation into BP’s actions in the case of the freed man, Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi.
After an initial demand for an investigation on Wednesday by four senators from New York and New Jersey, further calls for an inquiry by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee were made on Thursday by Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, both Democrats of California.
Mr. Megrahi, a former Libyan intelligence agent, was released and allowed to return to Libya in August after doctors advised the Scottish government that he was likely to die within three months of prostate cancer. But nearly a year later, he remains alive and free, though kept out of sight, in Libya’s capital, Tripoli.
BP’s statement on Thursday repeated earlier acknowledgments that it had promoted the transfer agreement to protect a $900 million offshore oil-and-gas exploration deal off Libya’s Mediterranean coast. The British justice minister at the time, Jack Straw, admitted after Mr. Megrahi was repatriated and freed that the BP deal was a consideration in the review of his case.
Money trumps all, right? Even in cases of real terrorism, with convicted terrorists.
The U.S. winked and nodded at BP’s machinations previously, but after the Gulf of Mexico disaster, and the horrible PR effort of BP, the U.S. wants to distance itself
British officials have noted privately that the last three American administrations have been keen for American oil companies to strike deals with Libya, and that BP has been joined in the contest for potentially lucrative deals by several American oil giants, including Exxon Mobil and Chevron.
Still, the chain of events surrounding Mr. Megrahi fostered deep disillusionment in Washington, where politicians and senior officials criticized what they regarded as Britain’s duplicity in the affair.
Their anger was based, in part, on assurances the United States said it had been given at the time of the Lockerbie trial, held before a Scottish court sitting in the Netherlands, that anybody convicted in the case would serve the full term in Scotland. Mr. Megrahi’s conviction was the only one in the case, after a Libyan accused of being an accomplice, like Mr. Megrahi an agent of Libya’s secret intelligence service, was found not guilty and freed.
According to the Supreme Court, only in the arena of political advertising [↩]
It’s hard to imagine anyone having a worse day than Tony Hayward, BP’s embattled chief executive, who spent Thursday in the cross hairs of an angry Congressional committee and turned in a mind-bogglingly vapid performance. But he got a run for his money from Representative Joe Barton, a Texas Republican, who inexplicably decided to call the escrow account agreed to by BP and the White House a “$20 billion shakedown.”
If Mr. Barton was trying to be supportive of Mr. Hayward, who looked like he had not slept in weeks, he failed. Mr. Hayward delivered an opening statement full of contrition for the immense damage his company has done. He then faced Henry Waxman and other veteran interrogators armed with truckloads of documents suggesting that BP had behaved sloppily at best and at worst sidestepped safety precautions to save money.
Mr. Hayward insisted that he had never heard of any problems in drilling and completing the well that is now spouting 60,000 barrels of oil a day. He further confessed that he did not even know his company was drilling the doomed well until the day it hit oil.
Thought exercise: Barney Frank makes a criticism of a decision George Bush makes, takes the side of a foreign corporation, say Royal Bank of Scotland. Can you imagine the media storm? Exactly, the Fox News chattering heads would be yelling for Barney Frank to renounce his citizenship and move. But Joe Barton (R, Idiot) is still the ranking GOP member on the Energy and Commerce Committee. Go figure.
Republican Joe Barton, who accused the White House Thursday of a $20 billion “shakedown” of BP, is the biggest recipient of oil and gas money in the House of Representatives. The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee charged with grilling BP CEO Tony Hayward Thursday has collected more than $4.2 million in political contributions from the oil and gas industry.
The 60-year-old Texas lawmaker, who later apologized for using the word “shakedown,” has collected at least $1.7 million in political contributions from oil and gas interests over the past two decades, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.
Barton, a former oil company consultant, used his seat on the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations to apologize to BP CEO Tony Hayward and castigate the White House for pressing BP to finance a $20 billion fund for damage claims from its Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
Barton’s biggest single corporate contributor, Anadarko Petroleum, is a 25 percent stakeholder in the Macondo Prospect, site of the Deepwater Horizon explosion in the Gulf of Mexico. Individuals and PACs associated with Anadarko have given Barton’s campaigns $146,500 since the 1990 election
It isn’t just Barton. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) called the $20 billion escrow account a “redistribution of wealth fund.” Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga) accused the Obama administration of “Chicago-style shakedown politics.”
Sarah Palin has gone so far as to suggest that the real fault for the catastrophe in the gulf lies with the environmental movement.
On June 1, the former Alaska governor and former vice presidential nominee sent this message out on Twitter: “Extreme Greenies: see now why we push ‘drill, baby, drill’ of known reserves & promising finds in safe onshore places like ANWR [the Alaskan Natural Wildlife Refuge]? Now do you get it?”
Despite BP’s near-constant denial, these massive plumes of oil are spreading below the surface of the Gulf. Can we all just say in unison, BP sucks!
The government and university researchers confirmed Tuesday that plumes of dispersed oil were spreading far below the ocean surface from the leaking well in the Gulf of Mexico, raising fresh concern about the potential impact of the spill on sea life.
The tests, the first detailed chemical analyses of water from the deep sea, show that some of the most toxic components of the oil are not necessarily rising to the surface where they can evaporate, as would be expected in a shallow oil leak. Instead, they are drifting through deep water in plumes or layers that stretch as far as 50 miles from the leaking well.
As a rule, the toxic compounds are present at exceedingly low concentrations, the tests found, as would be expected given that they are being diluted in an immense volume of seawater.
“It’s pretty clear that the oil that has been released is becoming more and more dilute,” Jane Lubchenco, head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said in an interview. “That does not mean it’s unimportant — far from it. The total amount of oil out there is likely very large, and we have yet to understand the full impact of all that hydrocarbon on the gulf ecosystem.”
BP’s chief operating officer, Doug Suttles, continued to insist Wednesday morning on the “Today” show on NBC that no underwater oil plumes in “large concentrations” have been detected from the spill, saying that it “may be down to how you define what a plume is here.”
But scientists outside the government noted that the plumes appeared to be so large that organisms might be bathed in them for extended periods, possibly long enough to kill eggs or embryos. They said this possibility added greater urgency to the effort to figure out exactly how sea life was being affected, work that remains in its infancy six weeks after the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded.
Hey friends, try this search term “BP Sucks” and see what you find.
Those good folks at British Petroleum don’t want us to miss out on the company’s herculean efforts to clean up the Gulf of Mexico.
That’s why you can find all the BP-sponsored advertising links when you type in more innocuous Google search terms like “oil spill” or “oil spill cleanup.” You’ll find friendly come-ons prominently displayed at the top of your search page with phrases like “Learn more about how BP is helping.”
Seems the company finally got a clue, hmm, over six weeks in, that this might just be a PR debacle of supersize proportions for BP.
I don’t know what Google charges to buy frequency and recency placement in favorable advertising. I do know that it’s a fundamental principle of strategic communication in targeted messaging. When you are hungry, McDonald’s wants you thinking burgers and fries. And when you’re thinking oil spill, BP wants you to click on its version of the story first and keep coming back for more news about how BP is helping.
Those readings suggest that a large plume, probably consisting of hydrocarbons from the leak, stretches through the deep ocean for at least 15 miles west of the gushing oil well, Dr. Joye said. The top of the plume is about 3,600 feet below the sea surface; the plume is three miles wide and as thick as 1,500 feet in spots, she said.
The University of South Florida researchers found an even larger plume stretching northeast of the oil well, with the hydrocarbons separated into two distinct layers in the ocean. One layer is about 1,200 feet below the surface, and the other is 3,000 feet deep, the scientists said.
The government’s confirmation of subsea oil plumes is significant in part because BP, the oil company responsible for the leak, had denied that such plumes existed, and NOAA itself had previously been cautious in interpreting the preliminary results from Dr. Joye’s group.
“The oil is on the surface,” Tony Hayward, BP’s chief executive, said last week. “There aren’t any plumes.”
This animation shows one scenario of how oil released at the location of the Deepwater Horizon disaster on April 20 in the Gulf of Mexico may move in the upper 65 feet of the ocean. This is not a forecast, but rather, it illustrates a likely dispersal pathway of the oil for roughly four months following the spill. It assumes oil spilling continuously from April 20 to June 20. The colors represent a dilution factor ranging from red (most concentrated) to beige (most diluted). The dilution factor does not attempt to estimate the actual barrels of oil at any spot; rather, it depicts how much of the total oil from the source that will be carried elsewhere by ocean currents.
For example, areas showing a dilution factor of 0.01 would have one-hundredth the concentration of oil present at the spill site. The animation is based on a computer model simulation, using a virtual dye, that assumes weather and current conditions similar to those that occur in a typical year. It is one of a set of six scenarios released today that simulate possible pathways the oil might take under a variety of oceanic conditions. Each of the six scenarios shows the same overall movement of oil through the Gulf to the Atlantic and up the East Coast. However, the timing and fine-scale details differ, depending on the details of the ocean currents in the Gulf. (Visualization by Tim Scheitlin and Mary Haley, NCAR; based on model simulations.)
British Petroleum1 is just not having a good week. Don’t worry about them though, they won’t have any real penalties, based on previous problems BP has skated away from.
Despite those repeated promises to reform, BP continues to lag other oil companies when it comes to safety, according to federal officials and industry analysts. Many problems still afflict its operations in Texas and Alaska, they say. Regulators are investigating a whistle-blower’s allegations of safety violations at the Atlantis, one of BP’s newest offshore drilling platforms in the Gulf of Mexico.
Now BP is in the spotlight because of the April 20 explosion of the Deepwater Horizon, which killed 11 people and continues to spew oil into the ocean. It is too early to say what caused the explosion. Other companies were also involved, including Transocean, which owned and operated the drilling rig, and Halliburton, which had worked on the well a day before the explosion.
Because BP just doesn’t give a rats-ass, and nobody is making them care either
But BP, the nation’s biggest oil and gas producer, has a worse health, environment and safety record than many other major oil companies, according to Yulia Reuter, the head of the energy research team at RiskMetrics, a consulting group that assigns scores to companies based on their performance in various categories, including safety.
government officials say that they are troubled by the continuation of hazardous practices at BP’s refineries and Alaskan oil operations despite warnings from regulators.
For example, last year the Occupational Safety and Health Administration found more than 700 violations at the Texas City refinery — many concerning faulty valves, which are critical for safety given the high temperatures and pressures. The agency fined BP a record $87.4 million, which was more than four times the previous record fine, also to BP, for the 2005 explosion.
Another refinery, in Toledo, Ohio, was fined $3 million two months ago for “willful” safety violations, including the use of valves similar to those that contributed to the Texas City blast.
“BP has systemic safety and health problems,” said Jordan Barab, the assistant secretary of labor for OSHA. “They need to take their intentions and apply them much more effectively on the ground, where the hazards actually lie.”
Problems also remain in Alaska. In January, leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee sent BP a letter highlighting “serious safety and production incidents” over the last two years in Prudhoe Bay, the nation’s largest oil field.
So you make up your own mind: is BP cavalier about drilling safety? Or do they just consistently have “bad” luck, year after year after year…
Typical, actually, though still irritating. Wouldn’t it be nice to live in a country where the government actually cared about enforcement of safety regulations of all sorts, and didn’t defer to the industries and their lobbyists? I know I would.
“Federal regulators warned offshore rig operators more than a decade ago that they needed to install backup systems to control the giant undersea valves known as blowout preventers, used to cut off the flow of oil from a well in an emergency.
The warnings were repeated in 2004 and 2009. Yet the Minerals Management Service, the Interior Department agency charged both with regulating the oil industry and collecting royalties from it, never took steps to address the issue comprehensively, relying instead on industry assurances that it was on top of the problem, a review of documents shows.
In the intervening years, numerous blowout preventers and their control systems have failed, though none as catastrophically as those on the well the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig was preparing when it blew up on April 20, leaving tens of thousands of gallons of oil a day spewing into the Gulf of Mexico.
Agency records show that from 2001 to 2007, there were 1,443 serious drilling accidents in offshore operations, leading to 41 deaths, 302 injuries and 356 oil spills. Yet the federal agency continues to allow the industry largely to police itself, saying that the best technical experts work for industry, not for the government.
Critics say that, then and now, the minerals service has been crippled by this dependence on industry and by a climate of regulatory indulgence.”