Sunday, June 13, 2010

Do you want to know what BP has really been doing? Part I

Want to know what BP has been doing? Step 1: When BP makes a claim, rule what they have said out of contention for being true.

This has to be tough for BP. Usually, when BP makes claims and uses PR to mask the reality of their daily operations, the narrative they create is seamlessly adopted by media and government. Well, here we have a problem too important with elements too transparent for such standard tactics to work. Their claims and PR are useful for us to understand the truth, however. On this issue, when BP executives make a claim or put out PR and ads, we should typically hold what they are saying as false. This, coupled with the evasiveness and lies of omission of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar tell us a great deal about the more likely story regarding BP’s activity with the Gulf spill. More on that in a separate post.

For those of you that don't like reading, here is a great video on this, thanks to Keith Olbermann:

BP Claims That Turned Out to be Bullshit (or Will):

1) Claim: The total leak was only 5,000 barrels a day. Reality: The leak is much greater than this, probably at least over 20,000 barrels a day, perhaps as high as 50,000 barrels a day. Okay, so the estimates range greatly on this number, no doubt in large part due to the motivations of those comprising the statistic that informs this part of the narrative. However, the BP claim was laughably small. They delayed releasing video of the leak for several weeks. When they did, this 5,000 claim was quickly shown to be an unrealistically small number. It took our stupid government until June 7th to stop officially relying on BP for oil estimates.

2) Claim: There are no underwater oil plumes. Reality: There are multiple underwater oil plumes. The best part about this claim is that BP kept making it even after it was proven false this week! According to BP Chief Operating Officer Doug Suttle, "We haven’t found any large concentrations of oil under the sea. To my knowledge, no one has." The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, researchers from the University of South Florida, Southern Mississippi University, the University of Georgia and Louisiana State University would kindly like to disagree with Mr. Suttle.

3) Assorted claims: At first, there was no leak, then 1,000 barrels, then 5,000. Repeated initial claims that the environmental impact would be small to modest. Repeated claims to have the spill and leak under control, to have the oil reasonably well contained, that it is a “textbook” example of how to respond well to an oil spill emergency, etc. Pre-spill claims that an oil spill of this magnitude would be impossible due to advancements in technology and safety precautions. Bonus: The shift a few years ago from the British Petroleum name to Beyond Petroleum, with an advertising campaign that promoted a more or less green narrative for the company (ha!). Green narratives in general are bullshit, but this one takes the cake for how blatantly juxtaposed it was with reality.

4) Currently, BP promises it will, “meet its obligations in the Gulf of Mexico”. Shit.

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