x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Drowning in Oil: BP and the Reckless Pursuit of Profit by Loren C Steffy

A dark and dishonest account of a man-made disaster.

The anti-British tone of the US media coverage of last year's loss of the Deepwater Horizon seeps into this intellectually dishonest account, which argues unconvincingly that the 11 deaths and subsequent pollution in the Gulf of Mexico can be attributed to a culture of corner-cutting within a greedy BP.

Some of the "evidence" assembled is laughably daft - such as the straight-faced inclusion of a noisy but otherwise harmless bursting steam pipe at a BP facility in Scotland, which caused a passing pedestrian "to trip over her dog and crack her ribs".

Less amusing is the emphasis on the homosexuality of John Browne, Tony Hayward's predecessor as CEO at BP, with the implication that this might have played a part in teeing up the disaster.

Steffy, a columnist at the Houston Chronicle, should know that, by virtue of the high-stakes, hi-tech game they are in, all oil companies - and not just those run by the British - could be said to be engaged in a "reckless" pursuit of profit; after all, 39 oil workers have died in the Gulf since 1979. Attacking Big Oil in general or BP in particular is a lot easier than acknowledging that these deaths are just another of the prices we are all prepared to pay for our dependence upon the black stuff.