Issue XXXVII: British Petroleum: 100 Years of Sucking

16 May

If the sight of oil-stained waterfowl washing up on the shores of the Pelican State didn’t move you to reconsider the wonders of offshore oil drilling, consider the recent development in Santa Barbara, California.  Cancelling his plan to drill off the Pacific coast for $100 million in new state revenue, Governor Arnold Schwarzneggar declared, “The risk is just much greater than the money’s worth.”

British Petroleum just blew it for the oil industry across America which was looking at expanded coastal drilling rights.  The well was incidentally called Macondo like the mythic Colombian town in Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude.  But before we line up Col. Buendia’s family for execution, let’s look at the decades of mishaps undertaken by BP under its various names.

British Petroleum began its life as the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (AIOC) which had the nice habit of taking oil from the latter and sending the money to the former.  This was gravy because fifty percent of the company was owned by the British Government.  In the 1950s, Iran elected a liberal nationalist prime minister, Mohammed Mossadegh.  Mossadegh nationalized the company’s assets so that the nation’s natural resources would benefit locals rather than international investors and England.

In what some argue was the OG “regime change”, the United States and Britain allied to overthrow Mossadegh and make the Shah of Iran an absolute monarch on behalf of AIOC.  One of the chief organizers, John Foster Dulles even got an airport named after him.

Of course, it was the abuses of pro-American Shah Pahlavi and his secret police SAVAK that led to the Iranian Revolution of 1979.  The first Islamic revolution in the Middle East had its origins in the greed of the BP.  Obviously, the Iranians told British Petroleum to get out when they got rid of the king.

American abuses

Lately, British Petroleum’s racket has been its environmentalism and “greenwash” campaigns in the media to improve its image.  Lord Browne, a “new” CEO who understood the importance of global warming and environmental issues.  They re-named the company BP, hiding the fact that the company was British and sold petroleum.  Ads were run calling the company “Beyond Petroleum.

Lord Browne did push investment into solar energy (better than his other colleagues in the cowboy industry) which actually made BP a significant player in renewable energy.  But the sums were chump change, a few million dollars for a company that spends billions drilling and spilling in Alaska can’t be seriously taken to be moving “Beyond Petroleum.”  Not more than 4% of the business came from renewable energy.

But BP never pretended to care about people.  When British Petroleum bought out Amoco, they inherited their plant in Texas City.  After Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, margins were really high for refining.  They then opened an old, unsafe part of the plant to increase daily volume.  The plant collected hundreds of violations for safety.  It was cheaper for the plant to pay the fines than to shutdown the plant and actually fix them.

In 2005, it all blew up.  Literally.  15 people died in one of the worst industrial accidents in America and BP pled guilty to a felony and injuring 170 workers.  That plant continues to run and is currently refining Canadian “tar sands” for fuel, well-known for being the dirtiest fuel in the world.

What are you going to do about it?

Boycott BP.  Don’t use the gas stations.  Sign this petition against offshore oil drilling and tell BP to clean up its act!  Do your homework and see which one of your representatives they have bought off!

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2 Responses to “Issue XXXVII: British Petroleum: 100 Years of Sucking”

  1. Nabeel May 16, 2010 at 3:14 pm #

    Its very unfortunate that America has become a defacto corporate oligarchy. You pay enough money to whomever, you can basically do whatever the hell you want to unless you start killing people…and even then it depends on how many people you kill and whether or not they were deemed important enough to do anything about. It would be nice if things would be fixed. That would only happen if there were a drastic change in the way America defines people (I.E. Corporations are not and should not be considered people…perhaps the biggest mistake in the history of the country). Its slightly interesting when global corporations have the protection of citizens and people, but immigrants who pay taxes are considered illegal aliens.

  2. bhatany May 17, 2010 at 8:31 am #

    Have you been reading the Austin Chronicle’s Letters at 3AM? Because there has been a three part series on the American Oligarchy.

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