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Gosh, how quickly things turn – one day you’re a strutting peacock, the next day you’re just another gasping, oil-covered bird.
In early April, BP was strutting about in full corporate splendor, showing off the $9 billion in profits that it had soaked up in just the first three months of this year. It was also basking in a corporate re-imaging campaign, depicting itself as a clean-energy pioneer and declaring that BP now stood for “Beyond Petroleum.”
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Since its Gulf well blew out on April 20, however, BP has proven to be beyond belief. The wider and deeper that this catastrophe spreads, the more we discover just how oily this giant is.
From the time it was known as the Anglo-Persian Oil Company and set out to grab and control the rich petroleum reserves owned by what is now Iran, BP has been a recidivist global criminal. In the past three decades, it grew huge by swallowing such competitors as Standard Oil of Ohio, Amoco, and Arco. Along the way, it has been implicated in bribery, overthrow of governments, plunder, and money laundering, plus having established one of the worst safety and environmental records in an industry that is notoriously reckless on both counts.
And now, its rap sheet grows almost daily. While its CEO claims that its Gulf blowout was simply a tragic accident that no one could’ve foreseen, internal corporate documents reveal that BP itself had been struggling for nearly a year with its inability to get this well under control. Also, it had been willfully violating its own safety policies, and had flat out lied to regulators about its ability to cope with what’s delicately called a major “petroleum release” in the Gulf of Mexico.
Imagine how the authorities would be treating the offender if BP was a person. It would’ve been put behind bars long ago – if not on death row.
“At BP, rig’s problems were long on radar, company reports say,” Austin American Statesman, May 30, 2010
“BP in 2008: We can handle a huge spill,” www.statesman.com, June 1, 2010.
“What if BP were a human being,” www.alternet.org, May 12, 2010.