Oil spillages: prevention is better than cure

A few years ago oil was discovered under the sea off the coast of Brazil and there was, of course, a rush to exploit the discovery. Chevron (amongst others) built wells to drill into the oil reserves and started to produce the crude but two weeks ago something went wrong, as it often seems to go wrong when drilling oil under the sea. Continue reading

Deepwater – someone blundered

The failures at the Macondo Well and its rig the Deepwater Horizon will fill tens of thousands of pages of evidence, reports and newsprint. The first in what will, no doubt, be a long line of reports has been BP’s own investigation. I have read the executive summary and watched BP’s video which is at

http://bp.concerts.com/gom/deepwater_horizon_report_long.htm. BP has identified a number of failures and is seeking to allocate blame between itself and its partners in the venture, Halliburton and Transocean. About half of the failures that BP claims are errors by the rig operator’s personnel – human error. The remaining failures relate to design or specification of equipment. Continue reading

The Principle of Making Pollutors Pay

Principles are important and it is an important principle that the polluter should pay for the cost of cleaning up its pollution. Mr Obama rightly insisted that BP was the polluter, and using the power of the United States required BP to pay for the cost of the Deepwater oil spill. The United States could not use its moral authority – it has none when it comes to pollution because it recklessly pollutes the world with excessive emissions of carbon dioxide. It has strength from economic success and used that to bring BP into line. Continue reading

The world’s worst environmental vandalism

For the first time in three months it seems that the Deepwater oil rig is no longer leaking crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico. This episode has had all the features of a melodrama with a tragic ending. There have been cover ups, lies, incompetence, political grandstanding, recriminations and generally a simplistic view of the financial and environmental damage done and the sufferings caused with an even more simplistic misunderstanding of the responsibilities. Continue reading

BP faces another summons to the Senate

I am intrigued to learn that the United States Senate will hold a hearing to ascertain whether there is any substance in the allegation that BP lobbied for the release of Mr al Megrahi who was convicted of blowing up the airline which crashed at Lockerbie. I watched part of one Congressional hearing hearing on television when the BP Chief Executive Tony Hayward was brought to explain the Deepwater oil leak. I was not impressed. Continue reading

Will BP go the way of Arthur Anderson?

If you hurt America someone, without doubt, will suffer for it. It may not be the guilty party, but someone will pay. Iraq paid the price for the crime committed in New York at the Twin Towers, even though it had no or little connection with the crime. Arthur Anderson, then the largest audit and accountancy firm, paid the price for Enron, although its culpability is not in doubt, it paid a price that was based on a thirst for revenge, rather than justice. Continue reading

Mr Obama is hindering the solution of the Deepwater Crisis

It is interesting to see how Mr Obama is handling the Deepwater crisis. There has been a great deal of words, threats and bullying and not a great deal in the way of positive direction. The American President thinks that his job is to snarl and threaten BP, rather than make a positive contribution to sealing the oil leak. It is posturing of the worse kind and I rather hoped that Mr Obama was better than this; clearly he is not. Continue reading

BP Union Carbide and how we permit disasters to happen

More than twenty five years ago in Bhopal in India more than ten thousand people were killed when tons of methyl isocyanate leaked from the Union Carbide factory and settled over the city of Bhopal, like an unwanted poisonous Christmas present. The effect of the poison on the people in the area still is apparent today. Continue reading