Today, BP leaned on its sword. In a report based on its own investigation, BP does accept some responsibility for the oil well explosion that killed 11 people and dumped 4.1 million barrels of crude into the Gulf. But it concludes that there’s plenty of blame to spread around.
So it goes.
Partners in slime: As expected, BP says no single mistake caused the well to blow up, but rather a “complex and interlinked series of mechanical failures, human judgments, engineering design,” plus some communication breakdowns. And just so there is no mistaking who else may have crude on its hands, BP’s report names names [PDF]:
Additional relevant information may be forthcoming, for example, when Halliburton’s samples of the cement used in the well are released for testing and when the rig’s blow-out preventer [owned and operated by Transocean] is fully examined now that it has been recovered from the sea-bed.
We even get to hear from Mr. Faux Pas himself, former BP CEO Tony Hayward, who accuses Halliburton of a “bad cement job” and shoots down questions about BP’s well design, suggesting it’s “unlikely” that had anything to do with the explosion.
After reading the report, The Guardian‘s Damian Carrington offers a blunt appraisal:
It is, frankly speaking, quite terrifying — a catalogue of appalling shoddiness.
Not surprisingly, BP’s former partners are firing back. Halliburton says the report includes a “number of substantial omissions and inaccuracies,” and Transocean has described it as “self-serving.”
Yet so far, BP’s gambit of spreading the blame has played well in the stock market: Its share price rose almost 2 percent after the report was released. You can follow that and see a good summary of the report and reactions to it on The Guardian‘s BP update page.
Seek and you shall find us: We learned last week that BP spent at least $93 million on TV, radio, and newspaper ads this summer to tell the world that no matter how bad it looked, BP’s people would make everything better. Now we find out that it dropped a lot of cash on Google, too — about $3.6 million in June alone, compared to only $57,000 the month before. It’s all part of crisis management in the digital world. As Michael Learmonth writes in Advertising Age:
BP’s increase underscores how important Google has become for reputation management, and in the battle for public opinion. In the wake of the spill, Google was a natural first stop for people seeking information, and BP bought up dozens of keywords associated with the disaster such as “oil spill,” “leak,” “top kill,” and “live feed” as it vied for clicks with news stories, images of oiled wildlife and plaintiff attorneys trolling for clients.
Give piecemeal a chance: When we last saw Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), he was limping out of Washington, all hope for climate legislation in a fast fade. He and the rest of Congress are returning soon, and Reid insists that energy legislation isn’t dead. Wan, but not dead. Most likely it will come through what he describes as a “piecemeal” approach. With luck, Congress will provide funding for Homestar — the program offering rebates for home energy efficiency retrofits — and a nationwide fleet of natural-gas powered trucks. Reid even went so far as to say there could be a vote on a national Renewable Electricity Standard, deeming it the “right thing for the country.” Don’t hold your breath.
Losing energy: Here’s more fallout of the Senate dropping the ball on renewable energy. In its latest report, the global accounting firm, Ernst & Young, has moved China ahead of the U.S. as the most appealing country for investing in renewable energy projects. Another factor for the loss of confidence in the U.S. is that the federal grant program for renewable energy projects is scheduled to expire at the end of the year, with no guarantee it will be renewed. Alex Morales, of Bloomberg, quotes Ernst & Young Executive Ben Warren:
What we’re seeing in the U.S. is a continued resistance to committing to long-term visible and transparent support for the sector. The U.S. market has always suffered from this boom and bust tax-based incentive regime.
Nuclear summer: It’s comeback time for nuclear energy. The latest example is Germany, now a world leader in committing to renewable energy. Less than 10 years ago, its government passed a law that would have closed all 17 of its nuclear plants by 2022. But now it’s going to keep them open an average of 12 years longer because, frankly, it can’t produce enough energy from renewables quickly enough. Chancellor Angela Merkel is calling nuclear a “bridge” to the future. Plus, Germany is doing something you couldn’t imagine happening in the U.S. any time soon: It’s taxing utility companies to help pay for developing renewable energy.
Don with the wind: OK, I didn’t see this coming. The Mafia in Italy is moving into the wind energy business. According to a report by Nick Squires and Nick Meo in The Telegraph, organized crime families are tapping into the generous government grants designed to boost alternative energy. “Dirty” windmills now spread across the horizon in Sicilian cities like Corleone. That’s right, Corleone. But apparently not just the Mafia is cashing in on clean energy. The article quotes James Wright, a senior director with Kroll, an international corporate security firm:
Renewable energy seems like a good thing, run by saintly people saving the world. But a lot of people want to jump on board a sure-fire revenue spinner.
It’s just business.