4 Jul 2010

BP: Beyond Preposterous

OK time to look at BP again. The more I read the more I am angered by what has gone on - the worst environmental disaster in US history that is really only just beginning - although I suspect other oil companies are doing just the same....

....anyhow this blog developed into a much longer ramble than I had intended - it starts with the issue of arts sponsorship and includes videos of direct action (see more re photo below) and one not to be missed - BP clearing up a coffee spill!

See blog re rebranding BP here - and Greenpeace now have on their site the results - 2000 entries here - plus see here Greenpeace action at BP HQ. See my first blog on spill regarding BP and Government being too close plus Caroline Lucas quote and the gallons leaked monitor here. See here a blog from 2008 about how it was going back to it's roots as a dirty oil company.

So where to begin....or rather catch up on what has been going on...

Sponsorship: arts wouldn't accept tobacco sponsorship so it's time they say no to oil

Well previously I've blogged on Shell sponsoring wildlife art exhibitions - see here - total greenwash - an oil company trying to promote a green image by sponsorship while they massively pollute communities, ignore climate change and damage wildlife. Well BP are also at it and are getting more attention recently - on Monday 171 arts folk signed a letter to The Guardian condemning sponsorship - - they have refused to say how much money they give the arts in Britain but it is thought, along with Shell, to be one of the most generous. BP is a major sponsor of the British Museum, the Tate galleries, the Royal Opera House, the National Portrait Gallery, the Almeida theatre, the National Maritime Museum, and the Science and Natural History Museums.

Well activists have been busy at the Tate Britain, which was holding a party to celebrate 20 years of BP sponsorship. The art/activist group Liberate Tate dressed all in black with black veils over their faces dumped barrels of molasses and feathers over the entrance steps. See the direct action in this great video:

The Guardian also reported the action - photo above pinched from their article here.

Platform (who produced this map of oil sponsorship of arts in London) recently published a short report, 'Licence to Spill' that outlines some of the issues around oil sponsorship, including a number of voices speaking out against it from within the arts world. It covers the key reasons why BP sponsorship of arts is unacceptable. You can download it from here:

Organisations like the Tate and National Portrait Gallery help shape public attitudes towards the big issues of the day and if the Gallery is serious about climate change then the sponsorship deal with BP has got to end.

More about BP

A colleague in the Green party prepared some useful background info re BP that included some of what this next bit is based on...

BP is the third largest oil company in the world, after ExxonMobil and Royal Dutch Shell, with 80,000 employees worldwide as of last December, sales of $239 billion in 2009 and a market value — even after the recent losses — of more than $100 billion - although dropped recently. BP has extensive holdings in the United States. It merged with Amoco, the former Standard Oil of Indiana, in 1998, and about 40 percent of its shares are held by American investors.

At a time when Britain is desperate to reduce its deficit, BP is a huge contributor to British tax revenue, paying nearly £6 billion a year in tax. BP’s share price has lost a quarter since the environmental catastrophe in April, and some analysts say the crisis could lead to takeover or even bankruptcy. It employs over 10,000 people in the UK, its shares are owned - directly or through pension funds - by 18million Britons, and its dividends amount to £1 in every £7 paid by British firms. Individual investors all over the USA own 14 per cent of BP. It is not just the immediate economic victims of the oil spill who are suffering in the US, but all of those
who are exposed to BP's financial fortunes.

You can join me in sending a letter to Steve Webb in the Coalition re fair pensions and the call for better regulation - see campaign here.

In addition to shouldering the clean-up costs, the Obama administration has said that BP should pay unemployment benefits to any oil workers who might be laid off during a moratorium
on deep-sea drilling. This is just a little bit of hypocrisy - what about the non-compensation from US multinationals over the 25,000 Indians who died in the Bhopal disaster caused by US-owned Union Carbide or the Piper Alpha oil rig disaster when 167 workers died on a US-owned platform in the North Sea (see my recent blog on that here)?

We should also not forget the major Chevron incident - see my blog here - infact Chevron should follow BP's lead - see here - BP has at least accepted blame whereas Chevron's strategy has been to blame anyone but itself for the extensive oil contamination it caused to Ecuador's rainforest. Let's not forget that many commentators still accept that Chevron has caused much greater contamination!

Disregard for safety

I only recently learnt that the BP were involved in the Exxon-Valdez oil spill in Alaska - despite Exxon having its name on the tanker, it was actually BP who disastrously failed to contain the toxic sludge that spewed into pristine wilderness. But it is the whole oil industry that has poured billions of dollars into riskier deep-water drilling but not invested in responses to the leaks and disasters that have increased four fold in the last decade. It is also reported that BP failed to test the strength of the cement in the well, despite knowing that the casing was 'the riskier of two options' and that it 'might collapse under pressure'!

BP has had over 8,000 minor and major recorded spills since 1990 alone. Indeed in late May their Alaskan Pipeline burst spewing 100,000 gallons of oil into the environment. State inspectors say this occurred because 'procedures weren't properly implemented'.

In the Gulf clean up one million tonnes of the Corexit oil dispersant has been used so far - it is a neuro toxin pesticide banned in the UK and arguably as harmful as the oil itself. Of course we've heard all the news items about the threats to the environment, health and jobs...

Indeed on this blog I have covered the concerns that the oil canals cut through the wetlands to transport drilling equipment and oil contributed to the effects of Katrina being much worse - see here. The canals allowed more salt water to seep in to the wetlands, which killed the freshwater plants' roots leading to further soil erosion. These wetlands act as a natural defence against hurricane storm surges - see my blog here. The more they are destroyed the more vulnerable coastal towns become. We should not forget that that storm surge from Hurricane Katrina in 2005 flooded 80% of the city and killed over 2,000 people. Now we have oil pumping into the gulf for what could well be months with hurricanes predicted - not a good recipe.

Of course all this and I could be talking about the end of cheap oil and how this is surely a wake up call?? But hey look at Obama's speech - not as bad as some pundits have said - see DocRichard on his blog here about Obama talking green. And talking of Obama there is a petition to sign to encourage him to stick with clean green energy:

News that Lord Browne is also leading a review of student tuition fees: we can expect a few spills!

Caroline Lucas is quoted responding to this news: “We should be very concerned about this. When Browne was in charge at BP there was a major explosion that killed or injured almost 200 people, as well as a major oil spill in Alaska. In fact some people have blamed BP’s ongoing catastrophe in the Gulf on the culture of cost-cutting associated with Browne’s time in charge there. The last thing the government needs is advice on how to cut corners at all costs.

“In fact what Britain most needs isn’t someone good at axeing jobs but someone good at saving them. Instead of being tough of government departments that are doing their best to spend wisely, we should be getting tough on people who evade or avoid their taxes, because we need that revenue to keep public services up to scratch. And we need a government prepared to be tough on the kind of outmoded, entrenched thinking that would waste hundreds of billions of pounds on pointless nuclear missile systems and new motorways we don’t need. That’s where we should be getting tough. We should be trying to save the patient, not work out how best to carve up the body."

Videos worth a look

BP try to clean up a coffee spill:

Robert Redford film about the Oil Spill

Added 7/07/10: BP oil disaster good for the environment.

“For decades, we have talked and talked about the need to end America’s century-long addiction to fossil fuels,” said President Obama during his first national address since his election victory. He offers the development of clean energy technology as the way out. But you can't heal addiction with technology, it's much harder than that.

The defining stage of dealing with addiction is when the addict hits "rock bottom". This is usually when the reality of the effects of their behaviour - on themselves or on the people they love - becomes so extreme, so obvious, that it can no longer be effectively denied. Even the drug itself isn't enough to mask the truth. The BP oil disaster is this undeniable reality lapping, literally, on the shoreline of the world's largest 'user'. See more here.

1 comment:

Philip Booth said...

Art activists did another dramatic 'oil slick' performance at the BP-sponsored British Museum today.

Short vid, pics and backstory here...