Oil Change International

Exposing the true costs of fossil fuels

BP: “This was not our accident”

100503-G-8744K-008In the middle of potentially America’s worst environmental disaster, BP is attempting to squarely shift the blame for the Deepwater Horizon disaster from itself to Transocean.

As BP’s CEO Tony Hayward prepares to meet key Congressmen in Washington today, you can see part of BP‘s PR strategy in play with the simple message: We are not to blame, although we will clean up the mess.

Speaking on the BBC yesterday, Hayward said: “This was not our accident … This was not our drilling rig. This was not our equipment. It was not our people, our systems or our processes. This was Transocean’s rig. Their systems. Their people. Their equipment.”

But evidence suggests otherwise:

  • We already know that a key remote control acoustic safety device was not being used on the rig;
  • We know that BP “ spent years battling federal regulators over how many layers of safeguards would be needed to prevent a deepwater well from this type of accident”.
  • In a letter sent last year to the Department of the Interior, BP objected to what it called “extensive, prescriptive regulations” proposed in new rules to toughen safety standards. “We believe industry’s current safety and environmental statistics demonstrate that the voluntary programs … continue to be very successful.”

But this was not the only crucial equipment that was missing:

  • One BP worker has now said the company had chosen not to install another deep-water valve that would have been placed about 200 feet under the sea floor, which could have acted as a blowout preventer.
  • One worker who was on the oil rig at the time of the explosion has said the rig had been drilling deeper than 22,000 feet, even though the company’s federal permit allowed it to go only 18,000 to 20,000 feet deep, although this is denied by BP.

BP is also in denial about the success of BP’s response to the spill. “We have contained the oil in the offshore”, said Hayward, calling the response plan “a success”.

He went on to add that “There is today no oil on the shore, there is no oil forecast to be on the shore.”

This is in complete contrast to news stories that have oil already washed up on the shore and maps plotting the course of the main spill expecting it to hit land today.

And even if the wind changes and much of the oil stays at sea, this is hardly good news.  Jacqueline Savitz, a senior scientist at Oceana, a nonprofit environmental group, argues “Some people are saying, it hasn’t gotten to shore yet so it’s all good.”

She continues: “But a lot of animals live in the ocean, and a spill like this becomes bad for marine life as soon as it hits the water. You have endangered sea turtles, the larvae of bluefin tuna, shrimp and crabs and oysters, grouper. A lot of these are already being affected and have been for 10 days. We’re waiting to see how bad it is at the shore, but we may never fully understand the full impacts on ocean life.”

So when Congressmen grill Hayward later today, they should grill him over BP’s record of trying to oppose enhanced safety features on the rigs.

They should grill him about putting profit over safety and the environment.

Brent Coon, a lawyer who sued BP over a previous deadly oil facility explosion, is now representing a 24-year-old roustabout who was working on the rig at the time of the blast.

“BP stands apart, heads and shoulders above all the rest of them, with respect to their conduct,” argues Coon. “It’s like they just don’t care.”

So Mr. Hayward it is your accident.

And no matter what you think, the public rightly believes you are to blame.

Comments (14)

  1. Fleurdamour says:

    BP subcontracted Transocean, so no matter what, they ARE responsible for their share of this.

  2. kevin timpson says:

    I’m not naive or wet behind the ears, I’m a nearly 50 year old British ex-pat…and I remember when I was proud of “British Petroleum”.
    Now I see that the brilliant and eloquent gentleman-managers are definitely a thing of the past.
    What a golden opportunity Hayward missed by not coming out strong and good in the wake of a disaster that had already claimed 11 lives.
    He should have said…”Whilst we are aware that the systems and men and material used was Transocean…we accept overall responsibility for the problem and WILL find a solution,whatever it costs…to restore normality here.”
    Ok the board might have had a fit, he could have been sacked (although I think reinstated or head-hunted pdq for having the balls to take a stance.)
    So BP shares would drop initially…Big deal…look what they’ve done now with this weak man’s ill-thought statement. If BP showed the moral fibre to face the consequences…everybody would be looking to BP to set and keep the standards of future oil/gas exploration…now they’re an ‘also-ran’ guiolty of corporate fiscal protectionism…avarice in my book….get your cheque books out BP…don’t mess about…get it sorted and show the world the good that you are capable of.
    When this cools down…politicians of the world will ask who are the leaders…BP..step up to the plate. Do it or your shares will not recover and some of my pension is linked with your performance…so I have a personal reason for wanting you to behave properly. And I want a safe/clean working/living area for everyone and no damage to wildlife. BP you can show some technical skills now show management skills. Please.

  3. ‘Not your accident’ huh? I wonder how many dollars in profit you are taking from the ‘Not your accident’…. Let’s just take 20 years profits from Beyond Petroleum and invest in renewables….

  4. Jim Pottorff says:

    I am the first to support responsible oil companies but I am the first to say this chairman is a total arrogant ass. BP is trying to shift all responsibility to a subcontractor. I wonder if any request by BP was made to Transocean to consider more safety designs in the rig or was this a low bid situation?

  5. leon stringer says:

    when is our gov. going to wake up and tell these people,you follow our safety regulations or you don’t drill!!!!! .bp can go and drill off their on shores as far as i care!! . were not going to be able to buy gas pretty soon anyway.

  6. cosmo says:

    I ran numerous departments for many years, the consistent thread through all these companies , were managers of companies cutting safety to the margin of government requirements.
    Some managers used excessive downward pressure puncturing basic government safety margins to protect their bottom line.

    No difference here

  7. EW Zuber says:

    BP’s record in Alaska is clear. Burst pipelines, shoddy maintance, big spills. All we get is lip service, ‘we can drill in the arctic and be environmentally responsible’….well it ain’t happened yet.

  8. Lance J Konover says:

    The economy operates within the ecology. If the ocean is poisoned, which a good bit of it now is, we have picked one more straw out of the pile of jackstraws that supports human existence. We pick hundreds out of the pile every day, blindly, with no idea what any one of them will do – and which could lead to a deadly human extinction tipping point.
    By the time this leak is plugged, I do not believe that a liquidation of BP would come close to paying the real damages. Lip service will be payed, and token fines. Hundreds of thousands will have their lives worsened grandly, or ruined, and just have to suck it up.
    Meanwhile drilling will come back, hundreds of other wells pump away…and the clock ticks. The earth’s crust shifts and buckles under stupendous pressures…like Congress.
    There will be as much “shock” over the next accident – all to protect corporations at all costs.
    If the Exxon Valdez was an insufficient lesson – I do not see that the lessons are being learned, at all.
    It is all a dance, until the music stops.
    At least cockroaches will survive – they will eat oil if they must.

  9. Gary Beane says:

    We must recognize the other industries where, in the event that a catastrophic failure is experienced, environmental death is a possibility, and, if this is so, our very continued existence is threatened. It is in these currently accepted enterprises that standards for an extreme event response must be revisited and made most rigorous.
    Industries that come to mind are nuclear; weapon and energy production, chemical, bio weapons laboratories; including stockpiling locations, production, and disposal sites, drug manufacturing, plant genetics, and so on.

  10. L David says:

    I’m glad you posted this because I heard Hayward spewing this infuriating blather, and since have only heard him magnanimously accepting the blame. Obviously the PR Department stepped in.

  11. Don Jessy says:

    Our lack of concern for eliminating other species now threatens ours – us!
    It is ironic that the greedy, and the committed capitalists still pretend not to get it. While the majority in their numbed sleepwalking state go on, like the unaware critters they are, gobbling resources and polluting as they are told.
    Told by whom?
    Try tuning OUT – try not turning on your TV, radio, newspaper, media of all kinds. Does just the thought of having to explain to friends, family, and everyone else that “you don’t know what’s going on” make you feel uncomfortable?
    We are BRAINWASHED by “the market.”
    We are losing options, as fast as other species.
    Too bad, because we humans had so much potential. We were just accepting blindly, that we had no other options. Which very soon will be true. We too will have no other options to the extinction of ourselves.
    However the planet will go on, attempting to find another species that it can work with.

  12. Speaking of big oil companies shirking responsibility, when you (Oil Change International) gave permission for me to use your photographs in my drawings you wanted to know when I had done so. To that end, check out “Corporate Crime” on my website: http://blinkingartist.com or in Art Not Oil’s 2010 online exhibit.

  13. Marvin Sohm says:

    I am having problem with the first link. It gives a 404 error?
    Thanks

  14. Andy Rowell says:

    Marvin

    Which link is it?

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