Category Archives: BP

Told Ya So

It’s not like we didn’t already know the Iraq War was all for oil or anything, and it’s not like we haven’t seen every other rationale go up in smoke (Saddam’s WMDs, al-Qaeda, “let’s fight them over there so we don’t have to fight them here, yada yada). So this post won’t be a shocker to anyone. But hey, wouldn’t it be funny if we could find out what really happened in Dick Cheney’s energy task force meetings?

Well, thank God the Brits can point us in the right direction:

Five months before the March 2003 invasion, Baroness Symons, then the Trade Minister, told BP that the Government believed British energy firms should be given a share of Iraq’s enormous oil and gas reserves as a reward for Tony Blair’s military commitment to US plans for regime change.

The papers show that Lady Symons agreed to lobby the Bush administration on BP’s behalf because the oil giant feared it was being “locked out” of deals that Washington was quietly striking with US, French and Russian governments and their energy firms.

Minutes of a meeting with BP, Shell and BG (formerly British Gas) on 31 October 2002 read: “Baroness Symons agreed that it would be difficult to justify British companies losing out in Iraq in that way if the UK had itself been a conspicuous supporter of the US government throughout the crisis.”

The minister then promised to “report back to the companies before Christmas” on her lobbying efforts.

The Foreign Office invited BP in on 6 November 2002 to talk about opportunities in Iraq “post regime change”. Its minutes state: “Iraq is the big oil prospect. BP is desperate to get in there and anxious that political deals should not deny them the opportunity.”

After another meeting, this one in October 2002, the Foreign Office’s Middle East director at the time, Edward Chaplin, noted: “Shell and BP could not afford not to have a stake in [Iraq] for the sake of their long-term future… We were determined to get a fair slice of the action for UK companies in a post-Saddam Iraq.”

Whereas BP was insisting in public that it had “no strategic interest” in Iraq, in private it told the Foreign Office that Iraq was “more important than anything we’ve seen for a long time”.

BP was concerned that if Washington allowed TotalFinaElf’s existing contact with Saddam Hussein to stand after the invasion it would make the French conglomerate the world’s leading oil company. BP told the Government it was willing to take “big risks” to get a share of the Iraqi reserves, the second largest in the world.

Over 1,000 documents were obtained under Freedom of Information over five years by the oil campaigner Greg Muttitt. They reveal that at least five meetings were held between civil servants, ministers and BP and Shell in late 2002.

The 20-year contracts signed in the wake of the invasion were the largest in the history of the oil industry. They covered half of Iraq’s reserves – 60 billion barrels of oil, bought up by companies such as BP and CNPC (China National Petroleum Company), whose joint consortium alone stands to make £403m ($658m) profit per year from the Rumaila field in southern Iraq.

You know, if this shit went on in the UK you can be damned sure it happened here in the United States.

Isn’t it peachy to know that well before the invasion of Iraq on the pretense of finding “weapons of mass destruction” and under the threat of “smoking guns becoming mushroom clouds,” behind the scenes oil companies were already divvying up the booty?

One, two, three, four, what the hell are we fighting for?

Oh yeah, and why do we still have tens of thousands of troops over there? Anyone?

And can you believe that no one has yet gone to jail for this? Thousands of American soldiers dead or maimed or mentally shattered, our budget sent into debt for a war that was never paid for, tens of thousands of Iraqi civillians dead or living as refugees, all for western greed.

And no one is in jail.

Yeah sure, they hate us for our freedoms. Right.

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Filed under Big Oil, BP, Iraq War

>Shocking

>Well, clearly the solution to this problem is more deregulation:

As early as February, oil-field service giant Halliburton was getting poor results in lab tests of the recipe for the cement it was planning to use, according to evidence collected by the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling.

Three separate tests suggested that the mixture would be “unstable,” according to a commission staff letter released Thursday.

Halliburton notified BP by e-mail about only one of the tests before the well explosion, according to the commission. The two companies went ahead with the cementing job anyway. Its failure became the first in a cascade of factors leading to the accident.

The results of a fourth Halliburton test – the only one indicating that the cement slurry might have been able to contain the high-pressure pool of oil and gas at the bottom of the Macondo well – were not available until the night of April 19 at the earliest and perhaps not until after the cement was poured, the commission staff said.

[…]

At the commission’s request, Chevron recently carried out independent lab tests of a cement slurry that Halliburton said was the same as that used in the Macondo well. The commission staff said Chevron reported that “its lab personnel were unable to generate stable foam cement in the laboratory using the materials provided by Halliburton.”

The commission staff said in the letter Thursday that the Halliburton tests before the Macondo well blowout and the new lab tests conducted by Chevron show that “Halliburton (and perhaps BP) should have considered redesigning the foam slurry before pumping it at the Macondo well.”

Well, I’m sure the free hand of the market will take care of that. I mean, this is Halliburton, y’all! The company which fleeced taxpayers with its Iraq reconstruciton corruption, overcharged the U.S. government for fuel, tried to cover up a female employee’s alleged gang rape. The company which got fat off U.S. government warmongering then moved to Dubai to avoid paying taxes. Such a patriotic group of people.

So now BP can share some of the liability for the country’s worst oil spill with Dick Cheney’s old company. This should be fun to watch.

1 Comment

Filed under BP, corporations, environment, Gulf oil spill, Halliburton

>Show Us The Money

>While news that BP CEO Tony Hayward will be replaced by Mississippi native Bob Dudley broke yesterday, a far more important piece of news has gone largely ignored.

Which is: apparently BP has failed to deposit any money into the promised escrow account:

BAYOU LA BATRE, Ala. — Ken Feinberg said today he hasn’t been able to start writing claims checks because BP PLC has not yet deposited any money into the $20 billion escrow fund it promised to create.

Feinberg, who was appointed last month to administer individual and business claims stemming from the oil spill, held an early morning town hall meeting in Bayou La Batre on Saturday before meeting with the Press-Register editorial board in downtown Mobile.

[…]

Feinberg said he doesn’t have the authority to force BP to deposit the money, and that he can’t start making payments until it does.

“I don’t want the checks to bounce,” he said.

He said he has been told that the money would be available in the next week or so.

Ah yes, “the check is in the mail.”

I don’t know what the hold-up is, what parts of “the company’s agreement with the White House” still need to be “finalized.” I do know that people down in the Gulf have been promised that BP will “make it right,” and the White House has backed that pledge. The vehicle for this is the $20 billion compensation fund. If this doesn’t happen, the repercussions will be devastating.

Consider this:

We talked to several people afterwards, and with typical Southern courtesy they said they were “glad to see” Feinberg, and welcomed him to Alabama.

But most also said “talk is cheap,” and “we heard all that from BP, too,” just before they started denying claims and reducing compensation.

People aren’t stupid. They know when they’re being sold a bill of goods. The last thing anyone needs is for the White House to be a carbon copy of BP where dealing with the Gulf Coast is concerned.

Unfortunately, the White House’s credibility is now tied to BP’s. But let’s remember, when it comes to BP and the U.S. government, it’s a symbiotic relationship.

I don’t have a good feeling about this.

3 Comments

Filed under BP, Gulf oil spill, U.S. military

>Grand Old Petroleum

>[UPDATE]:

Nobody could have anticipated this! Oh, wait …

———————————–

Rep. Joe Barton of Texas just apologized to BP for being forced to set up a $20 billion fund to compensate the Gulf Coast. He called it a “shake down.”

I see.

This is why we don’t want any more Texas oil men in Washington. This is precisely the attitude we saw from Bush, Cheney, Condi (she had an oil tanker named after her!) and all the other Big Oil cronies handed the reins of power for eight years.

Meanwhile, you wacky kids on the internet are already having your fun:

Honestly, after months of hissy fits from the right wing about President Obama “apologizing for America” you’d think apologizing to BP over the oil spill might raise a few eyebrows in the Texas Teanut Party. But word has it Limbaugh opened his radio show today criticizing the “BP shakedown.” Guess they got the memo.

[UPDATE]

Video courtesy of JR Lind at Post Politics:

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Filed under BP, Gulf oil spill, Rep. Joe Barton, Texas

>Friday Funny: BP Spills Coffee

>This cracked me up. Sometimes, you gotta laugh. Oh, and to Boris Johnson and Lord Tebbit? If you’re reading: fuck you. Our rhetoric isn’t anti-British, it’s anti-BP, and if you’re confusing the two, then Britain is further along the fascist-corporatist trail then America is.

Big Oil really does own the world, doesn’t it?

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Filed under BP, Gulf oil spill

>Punishing BP

>More ideas on punishing BP here. And it turns out my idea for giving BP the equivalent of the corporate person’s death penalty isn’t so crackpot after all:

And killing BP in return would hardly be unprecedented: In America’s first 100 years, we shut down an average of 2,000 “rogue corporations” each year.

Heh.

——————————

Yes, we can. It’s called “discretionary debarment” and it seems to be the best way to finally stand up to the oil giant:

Over the past 10 years, BP has paid tens of millions of dollars in fines and been implicated in four separate instances of criminal misconduct that could have prompted this far more serious action. Until now, the company’s executives and their lawyers have fended off such a penalty by promising that BP would change its ways.

Yeah, that worked out swimmingly, didn’t it?

I don’t know why our regulatory agencies are content to let corporations like BP get away with repeated misconduct while looking the other way. Oh wait, yes I do know why. We all know why: it’s just another case of corporations infiltrating every aspect of our government. From regulatory capture to lobbying to astroturfing to outright bribery and graft, our government now represents corporate interests, not the peoples’ interests. And this is the predictable result.

However, it’s the only government we’ve got, and we do have the power to change it. I love right wingers who tell me this is all an example of how “government doesn’t work,” when in fact it is the corporate interests which have corrupted government to begin with. So what are we supposed to do, turn our government over to the fraudsters? Plus, I may not be able to influence BP’s board of directors but I sure as hell have a say over who represents me in Washington.

Anyway, the government can suspend all of its contracts with BP via discretionary debarment:

Federal law allows agencies to suspend or bar from government contracts companies that engage in fraudulent, reckless or criminal conduct. The sanctions can be applied to a single facility or an entire corporation. Government agencies have the power to forbid a company to collect any benefit from the federal government in the forms of contracts, land leases, drilling rights, or loans.

The most serious, sweeping kind of suspension is called “discretionary debarment” and it is applied to an entire company. If this were imposed on BP, it would cancel not only the company’s contracts to sell fuel to the military but prohibit BP from leasing or renewing drilling leases on federal land. In the worst cast, it could also lead to the cancellation of BP’s existing federal leases, worth billions of dollars.

Yes that’s right. You folks diligently boycotting BP in a show of solidarity with our neighbors on the Gulf Coast might like to know that the U.S. government is currently giving billions of your tax dollars to BP to fuel our military. How many billions? This report I’ve linked to estimates around $4.6 billion over the past 10 years.

Yes that would be the same military currently deployed in the Middle East to protect “our” (read: BP and other western oil companies) access to oil. Wow, wrap your ahead around that one for a second. All of which leads most folks to believe that a full-scale discretionary debarment won’t happen:

Discretionary debarment is a step that government investigators have long sought to avoid, and which many experts had considered highly unlikely because BP is a major supplier of fuel to the U.S. military. The company could petition U.S. courts for an exception, arguing that ending that contract is a national security risk. That segment of BP’s business alone was worth roughly $4.6 billion over the last decade, according to the government contracts website USAspending.gov.

Yeah, see when you’ve got the world’s largest military deployed around far-flung reaches of the globe and that military needs the juice, then a little thing like an eco-disaster in the Gulf of Mexico probably doesn’t amount to a hill of beans. Our military needs its juice, because the juice is what enables us to protect the West’s access to oil.

Got that? No wonder our empire is crumbling. It is being crushed by the staggering weight of its own stupidity.

Anyway, if you’d really like to punish BP for its reckless behavior, you might start with this petition advocating debarment. It’s worth a shot.

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Filed under BP, corporations, Gulf oil spill, military contractors

Boycott Petroleum

Hey, Code Pink and the rest of you activist types, I love you dearly, you make me laugh and every time you try to arrest Karl Rove you make me want to pump my fist in the air and shout “hell yeah!” But the Boycott BP movement completely misses the point.

Please. Yes BP are pigs but so are Chevron, Exxon, Royal Dutch Shell, and every other operation drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and around the world right now.

Don’t boycott BP. Boycott petroleum!

Look, it’s just a fluke that this accident happened on a BP rig. It could easily have been another company’s operation. We could be making hilarious re-designs of the Chevron logo, not BP’s.

I realize in this modern age it is extremely difficult for consumers to single-handedly kick the petroleum habit. This is why we need our government to make strong, decisive, bold steps in this direction. But there are things we can all do to use less of the eco-disaster creating stuff.

I know we can’t all trade in our cars for EVs and hybrids (but those of you who can or are in the market for a new car might consider that). But we can all drive less, and drive more efficiently when we do use the car.

• Try taking one fewer car trip a day and see how that works. If you normally drive your car at lunchtime, try bringing your lunch to work, or walking to lunch. Try combining your errands so you take fewer trips. Car pool. Can you take a bike anywhere or use public transportation?

• Eat less meat. Yes, meat is destructive to the environment and uses a lot of fossil fuels. Mr. Beale and I are trying the Meatless Monday campaign. And let me tell you, it’s been a tough sell with my spouse, who a) doesn’t like vegetables and b) thinks if the plate doesn’t contain meat it’s not a meal (When I first mentioned Meatless Mondays to him he said, “so we eat fish?”). So I’m getting creative in the kitchen. He hasn’t divorced me yet, so maybe we can stick with it.

• Do you have an extra $4 a month? C’mon, you know you do. Buy a block of green power from NES. We buy 10 5 at our house (forgot we cut back when we had the solar panels installed). It’s a lot to add to the power bill every month, not everyone can do that, but surely you can find $4 in the sofa cushions. It’s a gallon and a half of gasoline. Maybe you can find it in what you save by not taking that extra car trip.

• Stop buying bottled water. Seriously, plastic water bottles are disgusting. Get yourself a stainless steel thermos and if your tap water tastes bad, put a charcoal filter on it.

• Raise (or lower) your thermostat. Open windows at night, close windows and blinds during the day. You will adjust, I promise you. Buildings don’t need to be cooled to meat locker temperatures in the summer.

Look, we don’t all have to live in tents and start churning our own butter. If everybody did just one extra thing I think it would have a huge impact.

This spill isn’t just BP’s fault. It’s everybody’s fault. We’re all responsible, every one of us.

13 Comments

Filed under BP, energy conservation, Gulf oil spill

>Sending BP A Message

>Folks around the world are not happy with BP and they are spreading the word in a variety of interesting ways. National news media has done a piss-poor job of covering what’s happening on the grassroots level, so I’ve compiled a list of stuff you won’t see on CNN.

• On Tybee Island, Georgia, protestors staged a mock oil spill.

• A market in New Orleans bakes a cake:

• At BP’s London, England HQ, Greenpeace protestors re-style the BP logo:

You can watch video here:

http://news.sky.com/sky-news/app/skynewsflash/OBU_Player_30.swf?type=embedded&baseColor=6710886&highlightColor=16711680&channel_key=News&ad_channel=2169867&ad_alias=pre_skynews_skynews_Home_Business&networkId=999.1&unique_id=09361&media_title=GreenpeaceBPHeadquartersProtest&attrib_url=http://news.sky.com&video_url=http://static1.sky.com//feeds/skynews/latest/flash/200510-bp-headquarters-greenpeace-protest.flv&smoothing=true&tracking_account=DM530320KARC

People have staged protests in cities like Los Angeles, Seattle, Palm Beach and St. Petersburg, while in New Orleans there are calls for a more organized march.

Meanwhile, on the Wall Street end of things:

(Reuters) – A BP Plc shareholder in Alaska on Thursday sued the corporation’s chairman and board members, alleging the officials’ mismanagement led to the disastrous Deepwater Horizon rig explosion and spill and have devalued BP stock.

That should be interesting.

Anyway, I’m sure there’s lots more stuff happening at the grassroots level. Keep your eyes and ears open.

MORE:

They are donating campaign contributions (albeit small ones):

May 18, 2010 (Chula Vistas)– Assemblymember Mary Salas, Democratic candidate for State Senate in the 40th District, donated a $500 contribution she received from British Petroleum (BP) to the San Diego League of Conservation Voters in protest of the company’s response to the massive Gulf Oil spill.She also accused her primary opponent, Juan Vargas, of being “in the pocket” of big oil companies.

4 Comments

Filed under BP, Gulf oil spill, protests

>How BP Is Like The TN Legislature

>Both want to stop news from being reported.

CBS News journalists were threatened with arrest for attempting to film oil washing ashore. Watch the video here:

http://cnettv.cnet.com/av/video/cbsnews/atlantis2/player-dest.swf

Yes, if nobody sees the oil washing ashore, then it surely doesn’t exist! Hey, it works for Britt Hume, right?

Meanwhile, Rep. Joe Towns, D-Memphis, tried to permanently ban AP reporter Erik Schelzig from the House chamber after Schelzig photographed a collapsed House Speaker Kent Williams last week (Williams was suffering from low blood sugar and recovered). In other words, Schelzig was doing his job.

Look, I’m glad Schelzig hasn’t been banned from the chamber, but the resolution misses the point. I want to make sure neither he nor any other reporter is ever again ejected from the chamber by the sergeant at arms and a state trooper for, I repeat, doing his job. Because seeing your colleague ushered out under threat of arrest sends a pretty powerful message–one that transcends House resolutions. If the rules of conduct need to be clarified then so be it, but let’s make one thing absolutely clear: when a legislator collapses it is a newsworthy event, and if there’s a photographer on the scene he or she damn well better be allowed to cover it. And shame on any politician, Democrat or Republican, for sending any other message.

Dear TNDP: Better Democrats, please.

4 Comments

Filed under BP, Gulf oil spill, media, media manipulation, Tennessee politics

>Out Of Ideas

>SNL captured the “we have no fucking clue what we’re doing but trust us anyway” message we’ve been getting from BP. Seriously, the “junk shot”? Are they kidding? Meanwhile, over at the Swash Zone are some alarming photos of the spill.

http://widget.nbc.com/videos/nbcshort_at.swf?CXNID=1000004.10045NXC&widID=4727a250e66f9723&clipID=1228147&showID=61

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Filed under BP, Gulf oil spill