Those of you who know me will be aware I am a little bit of a news fiend – and I often watch the American CBS and ABC evening news which is repeated on Sky News / BBC over here at 0030 and 0130; but lately their coverage of the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster has ground on me enough now to provoke a blog post. Well, that combined with the outbursts of the previously sensible President Obama.
They seem to have lost all context as to what is actually happening, but what grates on me the most if the anti-British propaganda they are promoting. Obviously I am somewhat bound to say this as I am British; but I would be equally annoyed if they were rounding on a French / Spanish / Brazillian company – the accident which occurred in the Gulf Of Mexico has nothing to do with the nationality of the company involved. If anything you could argue that the regulatory oversight of the country licencing the drilling was lacking.
However, we need to provide some context to the GoM diasaster which I think some in the American media are missing:
- Transocean, the company whose rig it was that blew up, is listed on the NYSE and traces its roots back to Birmingham, AL.
- BP’s Deepwater Horizon killed 11 people. Occidental’s Piper Alpha Disaster killed 167 people in UK waters, and is the worlds worst offshore oil disaster.
- 39% of BP’s shareholding is held by American’s. 40% by British. Most of the shareholders are institutional pension funds. Stopping the dividend hurts these funds.
- An estimated 15,000 people died as a result of the industrial incident in Bhopal, India in 1984; a plant ran by an American company.
- Chevron, a large American, company are currently being sued because they refuse to acknowledge environmental damage around the Lago Agrio field in Ecuador.
- ExxonMobil’s environmental disasters in Alaska & The Niger Delta.
- Obama was the biggest single recipient of BP campaign donations.
The point I am trying to make is not an anti-American one, but simply that the disaster which has beset the GoM & BP has nothing to do with BP being a British company (if indeed it really is?). Those American’s who believe so, notably including Sarah Palin, should really stop being so niave. The USA and the UK have a long standing special relationship, born out of our broadly common outlook on life – a relationship which has seen our countrymen stand shoulder to shoulder in warfare… just look at the extraordinary flying of Flt Lt Fortune, shot in the helmet, to rescue US troops.
So, I think the Amercian media, and President Obama should possibly try and put a cap on the hypocrisy of it all and concentrate on making sure that BP is held fairly to account and pays for its mistakes; while more importantly improving the regulatory oversight and licensing of operations in the GoM by both national and “foreign” oil companies.