Bhopal, Big Oil, BP, British Petroleum, Deep Water Horizon, Ecological disaster, Gulf of Mexico, Gulf of Mexico Oil slick, Gulf oil disaster, Gulf oil spill, methyl isocyanate, Nick Candy, Oil rig, President Obama, Rob Kelly, Tony Hayward, Union Carbide
Well may he have been seen with his head in his hands at that press conference at the weekend. For oor wee Tone is simply the latest victim of the broken well in the Gulf of Mexico. We can add him to the pelicans and the ruins of America’s oil strategy. President Obama has clearly been taking the trouble to finger Tony Hayward as the villain of the piece in the ongoing on-growing mess that is the Gulf of Mexico burst.
At the weekend and totally at sea, Obama publically stated that after Tony’s ill thought out and injurious remarks about “wanting his life back” and that the mess was “only tiny in comparison to all that water” he would not employ him. The question now must be – will BP? They sure don’t want to go down with all hands. There will be questions being asked in BP as to when he goes, not if. Who will shove him overboard first, the board or the shareholders?
Obama wants it nice and simple, and above all as far away from the White House as he can get it.
Obama needs to appear tough, resilient and above all else effective. He can’t be any of these. He can’t fix the leak, and there are no government resources that he can employ that can. No Bruce Willis to call on, no Thunderbirds and International Rescue either. Just a burst pipe at the bottom of a mile’s depth of sea. Impotency is a President’s worst nightmare. It makes you look like Jimmy Carter.
You wonder why they allowed drilling there when they didn’t have cast iron assurances that the technology worked. Ah yes, regulators – so that’ll be like the banks then, they were regulated too. That and an absolute need to be energy self sufficient made them rush into deep water.
So Obama talks tough for a domestic audience. He has irritated his allies by referring incorrectly to BP as British Petroleum which is as out-dated as calling it Anglo-Persian Oil. The Brits are a trifle tender on the subject of their big brother at the moment. Truth is BP is only 44% British and is 39% American. And of the American interest 14% are private individuals. If he does stop the payment of a dividend then he denies US private individuals $4 billion! A real vote winner that.
He says he is determined BP will pay for this mess. This would be fine if it was clear cut that it was ever actually all BP’s fault. Let’s not mention the fact that it appears the rig is owned by someone else, the operations are run by another lot entirely, and as to who designed, fitted, and maintained the blow out valve is yet another question.
Those who imagine that this is going to be over soon, or that they can dump all the blame on BP haven’t met too many corporate lawyers in their lives.
Unfortunately for Obama’s strong “the polluter pays” pose all this occurred in the same week that legal action relative to the truly appalling catastrophe at Bhopal in India twenty five years ago ground slowly to a halt. Again. On 7 June the courts in India finally convicted seven individuals of “negligence” and then promptly released them on bail. It remains to be seen if anyone at all will go to jail for this carnage.
For those who do not remember, an all American firm Union Carbide, was manufacturing pesticides in Bhophal, India in 1984 when it released large quantities of methyl isocyanate (which is every bit as bad as it sounds) into the sleeping town. 2,259 at least, died that night, with 25,000 further deaths attributed to the gassing. Children are still being born with defects. And the cases against Union Carbide are still before United States District Courts in Manhattan.
My guess is BP will survive. Just don’t count on Tony signing the Christmas cards this year.
Original Artwork Nick Candy, Manipulation Rob Kelly at here
Copyright David Macadam 2010