BP Execs Admit Guilt Regarding Pipeline Corrosion

Many of you will already be aware of the problems with BP’s corroded pipelines (at its Prudhoe Bay oilfield in Alaska). This week, senior execs at BP accepted responsibility for the troubles while testifying before the U.S. Congress’s energy and commerce committee.

Here’s the story, from The Guardian: Contrite BP bosses admit blame for Alaskan oil leaks

Senior BP executives owned up yesterday to “unacceptable” operating failures as they faced a barrage of attacks from US politicians over the company’s leaking pipelines in the Alaskan wilderness.
The British oil company’s US president, Robert Malone, and its head of Alaskan operations, Steve Marshall, ate humble pie in an appearance before members of Congress’s energy and commerce committee. “We have fallen short of the high standards we hold for ourselves,” Mr Malone said. “BP America’s recent operating failures are unacceptable.

I hope someone is out there writing this up as a full-length business ethics case-study. It’s got plenty of the classic elements:

  • “…ignoring warning signs…”
  • “…cutting back on maintenance…”
  • employees who expressed “…fear of intimidation and harassment if they spoke out…”
  • and significant “…staff turnover and a poor working culture…”

Uh-huh. Pretty disappointing, given that BP (“British Petroleum”) has lately been rebranding itself as a “green” company, in part by claiming that “BP” stands for “Beyond Petroleum.”

So, the discussion question of the day: are BP’s corroded pipeline more, or less, forgivable because of its recent attempts to rebrand itself as environmentally friendly?

See also BP’s Environment & Society page.

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