It has been four years since BP cut corners by using faulty cement to seal the wellhead beneath the Deepwater Horizon rig. The result is obviously well known, with eleven men dead and environmental destruction beyond anything previously seen.
While initially apologetic, remorseful and contrite, BP has since changed course, shifting blame to others and demonizing the people and businesses of the Gulf for participating in the settlement program the company itself developed.
Legal scholars and other commentators have recently opined that this about face may have been in BP’s game plan since day one. As I have written, BP is adept at saying one thing while doing another.
Investigative journalist Greg Palast raises more questions
Bolstering the theories questioning BP’s credibility and veracity is the new documentary film by investigative reporter Greg Palast, Vultures & Vote Rustlers. I strongly suggest watching, as the download is free until Monday in recognition of the anniversary. You can read a summary here.
Palast uncovers a tale involving the CIA, Great Britain’s intelligence agency MI6 and BP to instigate a coup d’ etat in Azerbaijan in order to exploit that country’s Caspian Sea oil resources.
What does this have to do with the blowout of the Deepwater Horizon?
This: It is now well established that the disaster occurred when the cement used to cap the well failed, allowing explosive methane gas to fill the rig and transform it into a sinking fire ball.
But this was not BP’s first cement failure and explosion. Just 17 months earlier BP’s Caspian Sea Transocean rig suffered exactly the same fate. The authorities kept the accident largely under wraps, it only now coming into the public consciousness.
The cause of the two blowouts was identical. In the Caspian as in the Gulf, BP laced its cement with nitrogen gas. The nitrogen bubbles sped up the drying of the mixture, saving BP half a million dollars a day on rig rental charges. But in offshore high-pressure zones, BP knew that nitrogen-spiked cement can fail. And it did. Twice.
The BP Corollary
If a book is more your speed, The BP Corollary by former company insider Rick Lacey is a highly entertaining and revealing novel based on Lacey’s experience in BP management. The book advocates for the extension of the Monroe Doctrine to corporate entities.
Lacey, understanding better than most what BP management responds to, claims that no amount of fines, civil penalties or lawsuit losses will change company behavior. The only solution is to ban the BP from the United States.
At the very least, it’s a good summer book while you’re sitting on the beach wondering when we might see oil rigs off the coast of Florida.