The biggest row since they set the White House on fire?

Just a flavour of what BP is up against. This is No 1 in Huffington Post’s competition for a new BP British Petroleum logo.  Poor old Tony Hayward, looking and sounding like the engineer he is, stands on a beach frustrated and asks  for his life back. Straight away he’s bait for a zenophobic feeding frenzy.  Obama lets an NBC interviewer puts words into his mouth.  Everybody’s talking at once.  It’s  headless chickens time.   What was that phrase: Britain and America, two countries  divided by a common language”?  Bullshit of course but any diversion will do…  What ever  happened to ” yes we can?”

Adds  British reaction is the main lead in today’s New York Times.

It’s gotten completely out of hand,” Mr. Armstrong said. “It’s a totally overpoliticized situation. There is a disconnect between reality and BP being totally lambasted.”

“Ironically, by being extremely strong financially, BP has become a target here,” he said. Mr. Armstrong said that President Obama should not forget that 40 percent of BP shares are owned by United States shareholders. “So he’s not doing them any favors either,” he said.

  • Cynic

    It would be more appropriate if Obama’s head replaced the sea bird’s. This crisis has been whipped up by the White House and turned xenophobic by Obama desperate for votes. It has gravely exposed his limitations

    Yes BP is responsible under the US EPA but then so are the owners and operators of the defective rig. But they are American companies – with big political lobbyists and history of campaign contributions – so that doesn’t count

  • Michael

    Will we see fox news bringing us live footage of English muffins repackaged as Liberty Cakes, English tea rebranded as Freedom Juice, English terriers renamed to Salisbury Steaks and Sting getting punched out?

  • Drumlin Rock

    Funny thing is Americans are the main owners of BP with 40% of the shares. Ironic eh.

  • The Brits dont believe there is a special relationship, they do believe they were conned over the Iraq war, which leads neatly into the Afghanistan war. Brits are dying in numbers second only to the US (not mentioning civilians). To say the Brits are unimpressed is an understatement.

    BP has not been British Petroleum for years and it is largely owned by the US. It is BPs and the drilling company who must sort it out, but what that has to do with the Brits is a fiction created by team Obama to take the heat off his lamentable lack of ability.

  • cynic2

    Haywood has little left to lose on this. Perhaps a private word that if he does cool it they will forcibly remind the public that, as we say on this side of the pond he’s all mouth and no trousers

  • slappymcgroundout

    Xenophobia? You might try instead:

    One clue may be an alleged decision by BP to replace heavy drilling fluid in the well with lighter seawater, in an effort to cut costs and move as fast as possible to production.

    The seawater was supposed to hold down the petroleum surging up from beneath the sea while workers capped the well with cement to seal it. It didn’t work.
    ***
    And the well’s blowout preventer – the final line of defense in preventing an oil spill disaster – completely failed. BP’s own investigation has found possible problems in regard to the blowout preventer’s maintenance history, modification, inspection, and testing.
    ***
    Robertson said there are multiple safety mechanisms in place to prevent accidents such as this, including ones to detect increasing gas pressure and protocols to prevent fire aboard the rig. “There would have been a dozen barriers that had to fail in order for this accident to happen,” he said.
    ***
    LAMAR MCKAY: Well, it gets down to the agenda and the culture of the company. And — and…

    SEN. RON WYDEN: It sure does. And the culture of this company is that there’s been one accident after another.
    ***
    At first glance, the BP of today looks like a safer and more efficient company than the one responsible for the fatal Texas City refinery fire in 2005 and the Prudhoe Bay pipeline burst in 2006. CEO Tony Hayward went on a management overhaul and efficiency spree after his appointment in 2007. He’s slashed overhead by one-third and cut 7,500 jobs to date, and last year kept up the momentum and squeezed $4 billion in cost savings out of the company. Hayward also honed in on one of BP’s biggest problems: project management, an area where the company regularly overspent by about 20 percent. All the while, Hayward worked hard to improve BP’s shoddy image as an irresponsible oil and gas company.

    BP became more profitable, but it failed to fix the one problem that continues to get it into trouble: a reactionary management culture that puts an emphasis on cutting costs and efficiency while neglecting preventative maintenance. Companies of every ilk can fall into this trap, and if nothing bad happens, management can be lulled into a false sense of security. BP just can’t seem to figure this one out.
    ***
    Both the Texas City refinery and Prudhoe Bay accidents have a similar M.O. Investigations that followed the 2005 Texas City refinery explosion found management focused on cutting maintenance and capital spending costs, and managers’ performance was measured in part by their ability to meet these goals, NPR noted recently.

    A year later more than 200,000 gallons of oil were discharged during two different spills when BP’s transit pipe in Prudhoe Bay burst. The leak, which was caused by corrosion in the pipeline, wasn’t discovered for five days and became the worst spill in Alaska’s North slope. An investigation found BP had stopped sending probes to clean and inspect the pipeline for corrosion in an effort to curb costs.”

    Sorry, but it isn’t xenophobia. It’s miscreants like Mr. Hayward who put his bottom line above all else. Maybe you up there in NI aren’t aware of BP history, but given Texas City, Prudhoe Bay, etc., we here in America know who BP is. For more:

    A series of internal investigations over the past decade warned senior BP managers that the oil company repeatedly disregarded safety and environmental rules and risked a serious accident if it did not change its ways.

    The confidential inquiries, which have not previously been made public, focused on a rash of problems at BP’s Alaska oil-drilling operations. They described instances in which management flouted safety by neglecting aging equipment, pressured employees not to report problems and cut short or delayed inspections to reduce production costs.
    ***
    Because of its string of accidents before the April 20 blowout in the Gulf of Mexico, BP faced a possible ban on its federal contracting and on new U.S. drilling leases, several senior former Environmental Protection Agency department officials told ProPublica. That inquiry has taken on new significance in light of the oil spill in the gulf.
    ***
    A 2001 report noted that BP had neglected key equipment needed for an emergency shutdown, including safety shutoff valves and gas and fire detectors similar to those that could have helped prevent the fire and explosion on the Deepwater Horizon rig in the gulf.

    A 2004 inquiry found a pattern of the company intimidating workers who raised safety or environmental concerns. It said managers shaved maintenance costs by using aging equipment for as long as possible. Accidents resulted, including the 200,000-gallon Prudhoe Bay pipeline spill in 2006 — the largest spill on Alaska’s North Slope — which was blamed on a corroded pipeline.
    ***
    California officials alleged in 2002 that the company had falsified inspections of fuel tanks at a Los Angeles area refinery and that more than 80 percent of the facilities didn’t meet requirements to maintain storage tanks without leaks or damage. Inspectors had to get a warrant before BP allowed them to check the tanks. The company eventually settled a lawsuit brought by the South Coast Air Quality Management District for more than $100 million.

    Three years later, a Texas City refinery exploded, killing 15 people. An investigation found that a warning system failed, and independent experts found that “significant process safety issues exist at all five U.S. refineries, not just Texas City.”

    BP spokesman Odone said that after the accident, the company adopted a plan to update its safety systems worldwide. But last year, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration fined the firm $87 million for not improving safety at that same Texas plant.
    ***
    “They are a recurring environmental criminal and they do not follow U.S. health safety and environmental policy,” said Jeanne Pascal, a former EPA lawyer who led its BP investigations. Since the late 1960s, the company has pulled oil from under Alaska, usually without problems. But when it pleaded guilty in 1999 to illegal dumping at an offshore drilling field there, it drew fresh scrutiny and set off a cycle of attempted — and seemingly failed — reforms that continued over the next decade.
    ***
    “There is a disconnect between GPB management’s stated commitment to safety and the perception of that commitment,” the experts said in their 2001 report.

    The report said that “unacceptable” maintenance backlogs ballooned as BP tried to sustain North Slope profits despite declining production. The consultants concluded that the company had neglected to clean and check valves, shutdown mechanisms and detection devices essential to preventing explosions.
    ***
    Two years later, in March 2006, disaster struck. More than 200,000 gallons of oil spilled from a corroded hole in the Prudhoe Bay pipeline. Inspectors found that several miles of the steel pipe had corroded to dangerously thin levels.

    When Congress held hearings later that year, Woollam pleaded the Fifth Amendment. He now works in BP’s Houston headquarters. Reached at his Texas home last week, he referred questions to the BP media office, which declined to comment.
    ***
    In September 2008, a section of a gas line on the slope blew apart. A 28-foot-long section of steel — the length of three pickup trucks — flew nearly 1,000 feet through the air before landing on the Alaskan tundra. Sneed had raised concerns about the integrity of segments of the gas line system.

    Three more accidents rocked the same system of pipelines and gas compressor stations in 2009, including a near-catastrophic explosion. According to a letter that members of Congress sent to BP executives, obtained by ProPublica, the near-miss resulted from malfunctioning safety and backup equipment.
    ***
    As BP battled through the decade to avoid accidents in Alaska, another facility operating under a different business unit, BP West Coast Products, had similar problems.

    For years, the subsidiary that refined and stored crude oil was allowed to inspect its own facilities for compliance with emission laws under the South Coast Air Quality Management District, the agency that regulates air quality in Los Angeles.

    In 2002, inspectors with the management district thought BP’s inspection results looked too good to be true. Between 1999 and 2002, BP’s Carson Refinery had nearly perfect compliance, reporting no tank problems and making virtually no repairs. The district suspected that BP was falsifying its inspection reports and fabricating its compliance.

    According to Joseph Panasiti, a lawyer for the management district, the agency had to get a search warrant to conduct inspections required by state law. When the regulators finally got in, they found equipment in a disturbing state of disrepair. According to a lawsuit the management district later filed against BP, inspectors discovered that some tanker seals had extensive tears, tank roofs had pervasive leaks and there were enough major defects to lead to thousands of violations.

    “They had been sending us reports that showed 99 percent compliance, and we found about 80 percent noncompliance,” Panasiti said.”

    Again, we know who they are. I would suggest that the one who is xenophobic here is you. Read it all again. They don’t care about safety at all. And neglect rather entirely preventive and responsive measures. Now read for the third time, our engineer friend who says that rather many systems had to have failed for this to have happened. British Petroleum. Same as they ever were.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Oh I think Hayward was “crass” in the extreme.
    To talk of getting his life back when others had actually lost their lives…is very bad form.
    As people have pointed out “British” in “BP” is outdated. And the British are no more to blame than the State of Kentucky would be to blame if I slipped on a wet floor in KFC outlet.
    But its interesting is it not how first off the good citizens of USA turn on Obama …he is as impotent as Bush was at the time of Katrina……and of course the British have turned on him too.
    BP share price in freefall.
    The value of the company falling.
    Maybe reduced or no dividends.
    Pension funds suffering.
    The folly of giving ANY USA President an ( up to) 90% approval rating in Europe.
    This guy will act in the interests of USA……thats what hes paid for.

  • FJH

    Hayward may have been crass but he is an engineer not a politician. Obama deliberately introduced the ‘British’ angle to take the heat off himself. It seems there are two problems apart from the oil. Hayward cannot make public statements and all Obama can do is make public statements.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    I dont think Haywards “crassness” can be excused because he is an engineer….unless of course engineers and scientists are less human than normal people.

  • slappymcgroundout

    To add to my last, no need for you to otherwise worry about the shareholders. They can take care of themselves:

    http://www.businessweek.com/news/2010-05-10/bp-investor-sues-directors-for-lapses-over-gulf-spill-update1-.html

  • FJH

    My fault I forgot to dot the ‘i’s and cross the ‘t’s.

    I meant: Hayward being an engineer is unaccustomed to public speaking, therefore it is easy to say the wrong thing at the wrong time, easier than saying the right thing as anyone who has been ‘caught’ will affirm.

    Obama on the other hand has done nothing but speak, with the aid of a teleprompter, his entire career. In fact thinking about it, he is not much cop without the teleprompter.

  • willis

    Hold on a minute here. I think you will find that Tony Hayward trained as a geologist, and he has never been an”engineer”.
    The rather pejorative use of the expression of the word ‘engineer’ to mean “a person who cannot string a sentence together in public” rather misses the point that if proper engineering guidance had been followed (thanks slappy) this disaster would never have happened.

  • willis et al

    There appears to be some misunderstanding here. Im not and I dont think anyone is suggesting BP are not responsible, thats not what has angered some people in the UK.

    Obama deliberately involved Britain in the blame game, and thats all it is to him, to take the heat off. I think Hayward may have made the mistake of an amateur where cameras are concerned, as crass as it was it may be understandable under the kind of pressure he is under now. Obama didnt have that excuse. The man does nothing but talk to cameras. In calling BP ‘British Petroleum’ he went back twelve years and ignored the fact BP is largely American.

  • willis

    Pippakin

    I have certainly no desire to defend Obama in this. However the right wing British press have not behaved as if BP was largely American. Hayward’s mistakes have been more than presentational. He said he was going to improve BP’s attitude to safety. he didn’t.

  • latcheeco

    No doubt if you lived on the Gulf Coast you might be less defensive about an English twat who has bullshitted serially at the behest of British Petroleum lawyers since this started.

  • latcheroo

    You still dont seem to understand. It is not British Petroleum! It is BP and owned 40% Brit and 39% US. It has been BP for 12 years.

    I have every sympathy for the residents and wildlife in the gulf area, and none whatsoever for a 2nd rate politician looking for an easy way out.

  • latcheeco

    ” latcheroo” Really pipsqueek ?

    “You still don’t seem to understand?” Yep, that’s the same arrogant attitude exactly, wonderfully exemplified.

    The point is that he’s not just some poor misunderstood engineer getting picked on. Check out his spinning assessment of the catastrophe on Skye where he suggested it would be neglible, or even his food poisoning comments. He’s shown some form.

    You seem more concerned and upset over a silly sleight about Blighty’s good name getting tarnished than anything else. Sorry your feelings are hurt but where’s their HQ if, like yourself, they’re not proud to be British?

    So who is first rate then in your esteemed opinion: David? Gordon? Martin? Peter? Brian? Enda? Wise up!

  • latcheroo

    Arrogant? since when has telling the truth been arrogant?

    As for the rest of it. I dont care about Blightys good name, or anyones except my own, but I like the truth.

    You have not hurt my feelings, Ive been called names by experts! I did like the ‘pipsqueek’ bit thought. It seemed, kind of mousy…

  • padraig

    From the same people who gave you:

    ‘The Isreali’s were right to stiff folks on the High Seas’

    ‘Nelson Mandela was a Terrorist’

    ‘Margaret Thatcher had the right idea’

    ..and …

    ‘Iraq and Afgahnistan is worth dying ‘

    I GIVE YOU,

    BRITISH PETROLEUM IS HARD DONE BY

  • padraig

    Its like some kind of mad, crazy Unionist compass,

    drawn to go for the most racist,

    inperialsitic,

    far,far right,

    reactionary,

    anti human rights,

    exterrmist,

    facist,

    hateful,

    nasty,

    arow.

    always pointing

    due north,

    the

    Unionist political

    Compass,

    Klu Kulw

    Klan

    wards

  • padraig

    Its just like , normal people would say,

    ‘Why did that lorry driver flatten that little puppy, there’s all blood, guts, grizzle all over the road?’

    Whereas Unionists feel drawn to say,

    ‘Why did the scum bag pup get in the road?’

    Well maybe its because they are used to running over pups getting in the road.

    Like in our own wee Province.

  • Looking at the bigger picture and playing a leading role in a pathetic Great Game Great Game. This is the viewpoint from an outstanding and outrageously alien perspective with as much credibility as anything a primitive society would be offering to inflict upon unsuspecting and ignorant nations.

    Fair’s Fair …. Play the Game and not the Man

    A storm in a teacup to add to the whirling dervish that costs untold trillions, without so much as a thought as to the cost and debts generated and sold/sub prime treasury bills and phantom menace IOUs which will never ever be repaid. This is a little something for Obama to mull over, before playing to the audience cheap seats, sticking it to rednecks, who fight and die to protect and server the Federal Reserve and the Obama nation.

    Honourable Member wrote:

    Uncle Sam pays BP for the Act of Nature Gulf cleanup and Brits continuing to put themselves in the firing line to deliver debt and capitalist consumerism to isolated cultures and undeveloped nations, seems like a good deal, Mr Cameron, if you’re into that sort of thing and sacrificing lives to support and create the global terrorist economy and Jihadism.

    June 12, 2010 5:10 AM BST

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/matthew_parris/article7148482.ece

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/politics/cameron-and-clegg-join-the-fray-as-us-steps-up-attacks-on-embattled-bp-1998428.html

    And as unpalatable as that may be, is that not the choice fare on the menu?

  • Oh, and what’s all this cloak and dagger secrecy about? ….. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Blw-BZYi9M8&feature=player_embedded