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Thursday October 2nd 2014

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Outtakes 11/03/11

NO FAITH IN BP DRILLING The federal government recently awarded BP its first deepwater drilling permit in the Gulf of Mexico since the Deepwater Horizon accident. After killing 11 men and polluting the Gulf with millions of gallons of crude oil and dispersants, the British oil giant now has the green light to drill a 6,034-foot deep exploratory well off the coast of Louisiana.

Don Briggs, president of the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association, praised the approval by the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement in a viewpoint that has been circulated to the media. Briggs called the permit an “encouraging step forward in BP’s return to the Gulf.”

He believed BP deserved the permit because BSEE Director Michael Bromwich said when the permit was announced that the oil company had met all of the enhanced safety requirements that we have implemented and applied consistently over the past year.

Why doesn’t this make me feel good about BP’s newest venture in the Gulf? It could be that BP has a history of putting workers’ lives at risk. Prior to the Deepwater Horizon disaster, a 2005 explosion occurred at BP’s Texas City Refinery that killed 15 workers and injured more than 170 others. Or it could be that BP was the company responsible for cleaning up the Exxon-Valdez oil spill, the largest ever in U.S. waters before last year.

Or, my lack of trust could be because federal investigators found BP solely to blame for 21 of 35 contributing causes to the Deepwater Horizon well blowout, and partly to blame for eight more.

The report that was released in September was brutal to BP and its cost-cutting ways. The packing cement’s failure to maintain the integrity of the well was the central cause of the blowout. Because the well was over budget, “BP sought to minimize these losses by reducing the volume of cement it pumped into the well” and a key analysis recommended by a Halliburton engineer was skipped, according to the report.

The oil company said, “From the outset, BP acknowledged its role in the accident and has taken concrete steps to further enhance safety and risk management throughout its global operations, including the implementation of new voluntary standards and practices in the Gulf of Mexico that exceed current regulatory requirements and strengthen the oversight of contractors.”

I don’t believe that BP will be any more careful this time. The culture of the organization, which is evidenced by its poor safety record, is to place profit before people and the environment.

BP’s cost-cutting has cost lives before and I have little faith that it won’t happen again. The company gambles that the pay-outs when an accident occurs are less than the profits from its operations.

And, unfortunately, what we permit we promote.