Friday, June 18, 2010

The pots accuse the kettles..

Did anyone else think that the grilling of BP CEO Tony Hayward by a bunch of smug, sanctimonious American senators yesterday was spectacularly pointless, unless of course the aim was to polarise opinion even further and celebrate the births of a multitude of straw men to feed a public desperate for (real) leadership, assurances and answers. I found it particularly dissonant that these people were on the one hand criticising an oil company for taking unnecessary risks and on the other taking no steps in their own back-yard to reduce their dependence on the very same energy source that the risks are being taken to obtain. If they were truly concerned about drilling procedures in the oil business they would actually do something other than paying lip-service to serious attempts at conserving oil reserves and limiting their own consumption in a country which  uses 80% of the energy resources of the planet. Another thought I had whilst listening to the proceedings was that I couldn't recall the CEO of Union Carbide being interrogated in this pointless macho manner after Bhopal? (half a million people were exposed to noxious chemicals and many thousands died as a result of that little incident...)

The whole sorry affair is a disaster and certainly BP should not get off the hook, financially or legally, but at this precise moment in time what is needed is for the well to be capped, the time for scapegoats will come later. We should not forget however that although BP are prime contractors for this particular incident, the chain of responsibility extends a lot further than just this one oil company, for example,

- The US public for refusing to face up to their ongoing excesses of fossil fuel use.
- The US Government for licensing the platform and sanctioning deep-water drilling in the first place.
- The myriad of sub-contractors who supplied equipment and management to the rig
- The fabricators of the BPV which failed (there are supposed to be triple fail-safe systems in those things!)
- The systems and management of BP itself

The chain will be long and the story will be complex, they always are, it seems to me that what is critical right now is that money is made available to mobilise the best resources possible to cap the well and minimise the environmental and social impact of the spill. With a fighting fund of $20 billion, for now, BP seem to be stepping up to that plate.


Elizabeth said...

Yes, I see what you mean. I watched some of it on Fox News last night. Very interesting.

Thanks for a great post, as usual.

Chairman Bill said...

it was pure theatre for the masses. Hideous.

Steve Borthwick said...

E/CB, political theatre is a good description for it; how it helped the people of the region I have no idea.