BP – The Spiller (Article #4 in a series of 5)
On Memorial Day we drove out of Venice, Louisiana. The first landmark we saw was FORT JACKSON – named after Major General Andrew Jackson and built in 1822 just eight miles north of Venice. We were reminded that the last time the British invaded the United States of America during the War of 1812 it turned out to be the largest battle of that war. It was fought and won by a much smaller force of Americans after the Treaty of Ghent that ended the War of 1812. .
My ancestor, President Thomas Jefferson, had a few years before in 1803 purchased from Napoleon Bonaparte the area known as the Louisiana Purchase (French: Vente de la Louisiane “Sale of Louisiana”) for a total of $15 million or about 3 cents per acre. It was a total of 828,800 square miles – doubling the size of the then United States – and encompassed all or part of 14 current U.S. states and two Canadian provinces.
After the British and their European allies had defeated Napoleon and placed him in exile on the Island of Elba, the victorious British sent a force via Jamaica to invade the city and lands that the American President had purchased from Napoleon a short 11 years before. The British intention, with the most powerful navy in the world and a large army, was to capture the Louisiana territory on the southern and western side of the United States just as the British controlled the whole of the northern border of the United States – Canada. The British wanted to surround the new United States.The British invading force consisted of 50 ships of the Royal Navy and in excess of 10,000 battle-hardened troops from the Napoleonic wars in Europe. The force was led by Sir Edward Pakenham, the 37 year old brother-in-law of the best known British general – the Duke of Wellington.
This well-experienced British force faced an odd assortment of Americans as described by historian A. Wilson Greene. “Never has a more polyglot army fought under the Stars and Stripes than did Jackson’s force at the Battle of New Orleans. In addition to his regular U.S. Army units, Jackson counted on dandy New Orleans militia, a sizable contingent of black former Haitian slaves fighting as free men of color, Kentucky and Tennessee frontiersmen armed with deadly long rifles and a colorful band of outlaws led by Jean Lafitte, whose men Jackson had once disdained as “hellish banditti.” This hodgepodge of 4,000 soldiers, crammed behind narrow fortifications, faced more than twice their number.”
Mr. Greene described the battle so well when he wrote “Pakenham’s assault was doomed from the beginning. His men made perfect targets as they marched precisely across a quarter mile of open ground. Hardened veterans of the Peninsular Campaign in Spain fell by the score, including nearly 80 percent of a splendid Scottish Highlander unit that tried to march obliquely across the American front. Both of Pakenham’s senior generals were shot early in the battle, and the commander himself suffered two wounds before a shell severed an artery in his leg, killing him in minutes. His successor wisely disobeyed Pakenham’s dying instructions to continue the attack and pulled the British survivors off the field. More than 2,000 British had been killed or wounded and several hundred more were captured. The American loss was 8 killed and 13 wounded.”
Nearly one hundred years later the Royal Navy, which still ruled the waves around the world, wanted to shift the motive power of its warships from coal to oil and they wanted a secure source of this new black liquid gold.
The British used a British lawyer and entrepreneur, William Knox D’Arcy, who had made his fortune in mining in Australia to search for oil in Persia.
It took D’Arcy and his team several years to finally find oil. D’Arcy’s offer of £20,000 for a sixty-year concession to explore for oil was secured in May 1901, covering 480,000 square miles (1,200,000 km2). The concession stipulated that William D’Arcy would have the oil rights to the entire country except for five provinces in Northern Iran. In exchange the Iranian government was given 16% of the oil company’s annual profits, an agreement that would haunt the Iranians up until the late 20th century. After the D’Arcy concession the British became much more concerned with the stability of Iran because of their reliance on the country’s vast oil reserves.”
In 1908 the Anglo-Persian Oil Company was founded in London. It took over the concessions that D’Arcy had forced from the Iranians. Then “ … in 1923, the company (the Anglo-Persian Oil Company) secretly gave £5,000 to future Prime Minister Winston Churchill to lobby the British government to allow them to monopolize Persian oil resources.” In 1935, it became the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (AIOC).
After World War II both the British and the US played internal politics with Iran regarding oil. The Iranian Parliament elected the nationalist Mohammed Mossadeq, after pro-western Prime Minister Ali Razmara was assassinated. They then nationalized the oil industry by unanimous vote. The National Iranian Oil Company was formed as a result, displacing the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company. The British withdrew its management from Iran, and organized an effective boycott of Iranian oil. The British government – which owned the AIOC – contested the nationalization at the International Court of Justice at The Hague, but its complaint was dismissed.
After the coup, Mossadeq’s National Iranian Oil Company became an international consortium, and AIOC resumed operations in Iran as a member of it. The consortium agreed to share profits on a 50–50 basis with Iran, ” … but not to open its books to Iranian auditors or to allow Iranians onto its board of directors.” AIOC, as a part of the Anglo-American coup d’état deal, was not allowed to monopolize Iranian oil as before. It was limited to a 40% share in a new international consortium. For the rest, 40% went to the five major American companies and 20% went to Royal Dutch Shell and a French company now known as Total S.A.
BP was then formed in 1954 and attacked the American market for both the drilling, refining and distribution of oil and oil products. The majority shareholder of the company at the time was the British Government.
As a result of BP’s buying up American and international oil companies, BP has become the third largest oil company in the world, the fourth largest company in the whole world and by far the largest company in the United Kingdom. BP is the largest producer of oil in the United States.
One could say, at that time, BP was the British government and promoted all the foreign policies of the UK government.
I was born and grew up in a British colony. I have made a lifelong study of what the British have done around the world. Since I have already visited 115 countries around the world I have found the British colonialist mentality is one of the most arrogant and insufferable in the world. I was talking to a leading TV producer within the last week or so, and he commented that the arrogance and attitude of Tony Hayward (the CEO of BP) fit that pattern exactly.
This goes back a very long way. I have found from my own experience that the attitude and arrogance that I have found in the British colonial mentality is so very different than the Britishers I have gotten to know in the UK. They do not have that arrogance in their homeland. But they certainly do have it when they go overseas.
The British have dominated very large countries with very few people. How have they done this? By the age-old tactic of divide and conquer. When undivided India had a population of close to 300 million people, there were only 2,500 members of the Indian Civil Service (ICS) ruling India. Of course, there were also huge numbers of the British Indian Army as well, to which those ICS officers could call upon.
Two hundred years ago, the British were the greatest military power on earth. As mentioned above, the famous Duke of Wellington was the victor of Waterloo over Napoleon. It was the era that the sun never set on the British Empire. So often people referred to this era as the one where the world was ruled by the Bank of England and the Royal Navy. During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries there was a constant expansion of that power around the world by the British.
It was not until the First World War that any of that changed. At the end of that war, the United States was the only country that was not adversely affected by the war. The British were virtually broke. American industry was thriving as a result of war production and jobs. The United States was finally recognized as a great power by the Europeans who were all beaten down by the incredible cost in money and manpower of the First World War. Shortly after this the Great Depression and the buildup to the war in Europe resulted in the Second World War. Once again the British were decimated. In each case, the Americans came and bailed out the Europeans from these wars.
Now let us come to the modern day events in which BP – a largely British-owned company has done two things that will shock most Americans. As mentioned above, BP is the largest producer of oil in the United States.
In addition, I would like to quote directly from the well-known Wikipedia about the BP holdings in Iran.
“BP continued to operate in Iran until the Islamic Revolution in 1979. After 1979, during the Iran-Iraq war, the oil refineries were destroyed and Iran became a raw supplier of oil. The new regime of Ayatollah Khomeini broke all prior oil contracts and signed new contracts with British Petroleum with 90% to BP and 10% to Ayatollah Khomeini and his followers.”
While all America’s other allies are boycotting Iran, our so-called closest ally – the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland – has a deal with the Ayatollahs whereby 90% goes to BP and 10% goes to Iran. When I saw this, it totally shocked me.
Today, the former head and now National Incident Commander of the U. S. Coast Guard, Admiral Thad Allen, was asked by ABC News This Week…” did he trust BP and its CEO”. He looked straight into the camera and said, “Yes!”
Now let us examine the track record of BP as regards safety in the United States. I quote all this material from Wikipedia.
“1993–1995: Hazardous substance dumping
In September 1999, one of BP’s US subsidiaries, BP Exploration Alaska (BPXA), agreed to resolve charges related to the illegal dumping of hazardous wastes on the Alaska North Slope, for $22 million. The settlement included the maximum $500,000 criminal fine, $6.5 million in civil penalties, and BP’s establishment of a $15 million environmental management system at all of BP facilities in the US and Gulf of Mexico that are engaged in oil exploration, drilling or production. The charges stemmed from the 1993 to 1995 dumping of hazardous wastes on Endicott Island, Alaska by BP’s contractor Doyon Drilling. The firm illegally discharged waste oil, paint thinner and other toxic and hazardous substances by injecting them down the outer rim, or annuli, of the oil wells. BPXA failed to report the illegal injections when it learned of the conduct, in violation of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act.
“2005: Texas City Refinery explosion
Main article: Texas City Refinery explosion In March 2005, BP’s Texas City, Texas refinery, one of its largest refineries, exploded causing 15 deaths, injuring 180 people and forcing thousands of nearby residents to remain sheltered in their homes. A large column filled with hydrocarbon overflowed to form a vapour cloud, which ignited. The explosion caused all the casualties and substantial damage to the rest of the plant. The incident came as the culmination of a series of less serious accidents at the refinery, and the engineering problems were not addressed by the management. Maintenance and safety at the plant had been cut as a cost- saving measure, the responsibility ultimately resting with executives in London. The fall-out from the accident continues to cloud BP’s corporate image because of the mismanagement at the plant. There have been several investigations of the disaster, the most recent being that from the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board, which “offered a scathing assessment of the company.” OSHA found “organizational and safety deficiencies at all levels of the BP Corporation” and said management failures could be traced from Texas to London. The company pleaded guilty to a felony violation of the Clean Air Act, was fined $50 million, and sentenced to three years probation.
On October 30, 2009, the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) fined BP an additional $87 million — the largest fine in OSHA history — for failing to correct safety hazards revealed in the 2005 explosion. Inspectors found 270 safety violations that had been previously cited but not fixed and 439 new violations. BP is appealing that fine.
“2006–2007: Prudhoe Bay
Main article: Prudhoe Bay oil spill In August 2006, BP shut down oil operations in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, due to corrosion in pipelines leading up to the Alaska Pipeline. The wells were leaking insulating agent called Arctic pack, consisting of crude oil and diesel fuel, between the wells and ice. BP had spilled over one million litres of oil in Alaska’s North Slope. This corrosion is caused by sediment collecting in the bottom of the pipe, protecting corrosive bacteria from chemicals sent through the pipeline to fight this bacteria. There are estimates that about 5,000 barrels (790 m3) of oil were released from the pipeline. To date 1,513 barrels (240.5 m3) of liquids, about 5,200 cubic yards (4,000 m3) of soiled snow and 328 cubic yards (251 m3) of soiled gravel have been recovered. After approval from the DOT, only the eastern portion of the field was shut down, resulting in a reduction of 200,000 barrels per day (32,000 m3/d) until work began to bring the eastern field to full production on 2 October 2006. In May 2007, the company announced another partial field shutdown owing to leaks of water at a separation plant. Their action was interpreted as another example of fallout from a decision to cut maintenance of the pipeline and associated facilities.  On 16 October 2007 Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation officials reported a toxic spill of methanol (methyl alcohol) at the Prudhoe Bay oil field managed by BP PLC. Nearly 2,000 gallons of mostly methanol, mixed with some crude oil and water, spilled onto a frozen tundra pond as well as a gravel pad from a pipeline. Methanol, which is poisonous to plants and animals, is used to clear ice from the insides of the Arctic-based pipelines.
“2006-2008: Texas City refinery fatalities
From January 2006 to January 2008, three workers were killed at the company’s Texas City, Texas refinery in three separate accidents. In July 2006 a worker was crushed between a pipe stack and mechanical lift, in June 2007, a worker was electrocuted, and in January 2008, a worker was killed by a 500-pound piece of metal that came loose under high pressure and hit him.
“2007: Propane price manipulation
Four BP energy traders in Houston were charged with manipulating prices of propane in October 2007. As part of the settlement of the case, BP paid the US government a $303 million fine, the largest commodity market settlement ever in the US. The settlement included a $125 million civil fine to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, $100 million to the Justice Department, $53.3 million to a restitution fund for purchasers of the propane BP sold, and $25 million to a US Postal Service consumer fraud education fund.
“2008: Oil price manipulation
In May 2010, the Supreme Court of Arbitration of the Russian Federation agreed in support of the country’s antimonopoly service’s decision to a 1.1 billion Ruble fine ($35.2 million) against TNK/BP, a 50/50 joint venture, for abusing antitrust legislation and setting artificially high oil products prices in 2008, TNK and BP declined comment.
“2009: North Sea helicopter accident
Main article: April 2009 North Sea helicopter crash On April 1 2009, a Bond Offshore Helicopters Eurocopter AS332 Super Puma ferrying workers from BP’s platform in the Miller oilfield in the North Sea off Scotland crashed in good weather killing all 16 on board.
“2010: Deepwater Horizon oil spill
Main article: Deepwater Horizon oil spill On April 20, 2010, a semi-submersible exploratory offshore drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico exploded after a blowout and sank two days later, killing eleven people and causing a massive oil spill threatening the coast of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Texas, and Florida. The rig is owned and operated by Transocean Ltd on behalf of BP, which is the majority owner of the oil field. The company originally estimated the size of the leak at about 1,000 barrels a day but later accepted government estimates of a leak of at least 5,000 barrels per day (790 m3/d). On April 30, BP stated that it would harness all of its resources to battle the oil spill, spending $7 million a day with its partners to try to contain the disaster. BP was running the well without a remote control shut-off switch used in two other major oil-producing nations, Brazil and Norway, as a last resort protection against underwater spills. The use of such devices is not mandated by U.S. regulators. The U.S. Government gave the responsibility of the incident to BP and will hold it accountable for costs incurred in containing the situation. On May 11, 2010, Congress called the executives of BP, Transocean, and Halliburton to a hearing regarding the oil spill. When probed for answers regarding the events leading up to the explosion, each company blamed the other. BP blamed Transocean who owned the rig, who then blamed the operators of the rig, BP. They also blamed Halliburton, who built the well casing. Scientists have been requesting the right to monitor the amount of oil that is actually being released per day, but “‘The answer is no to that,’ a BP spokesman, Tom Mueller, said on Saturday, May 15. ‘We’re not going to take any extra efforts now to calculate flow there at this point. It’s not relevant to the response effort, and it might even detract from the response effort.'” Steven Wereley, an associate professor of mechanical engineering at Purdue University, analyzed videotape of the leak using particle image velocimetry and estimated oil flow rates at between 56,000 to 84,000 barrels per day (8,900 to 13,400 m3/d), or equivalent to one Exxon Valdez spill every 3.5 to 2.4 days. A second, smaller leak has been estimated to be releasing 25,000 barrels per day (4,000 m3/d) by itself, suggesting that the total size of the leak may well be in excess of 100,000 barrels per day and became the largest oil spill in US history.”
In addition to the above safety violations in the United States that have led to disaster, there have also been many violations in other parts of the world.
BP’s current CEO Tony Hayward’s immediate predecessor as CEO resigned under the following circumstances as also described by Wikipedia:
“Browne faced charges of perjury for lying to the court over how he met Chevalier. Browne in a deposition to the court initially said the pair had met when they were both exercising in Battersea Park. Browne later admitted this was a lie. He acknowledged that he had actually met Chevalier via a commercial gay escort website, Suited and Booted. However, Mr Justice Eady, the presiding judge in the case, said he decided not to refer the matter to the Attorney General with regard to possible perjury charges, as disclosure in the judgment of Lord Browne’s behavior was “probably sufficient punishment”.”
We do know that BP has been thoroughly distrusted by many Americans and people around the world. Why is it that US Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen does trust BP?
Dr. Thomas B. Manton, former President and CEO of the International Oil Spill Control Corporation, now living in Florida and wanting to save it from the oil spill.