Are Americans bullying BP?

July 8, 2010


With all the comparisons to the Exxon Valdez spill of 1989, there’s at least one arena where BP appears to be head and shoulders above its oil-spill predecessor — suffering public mockery.

They can thank the age of social media.

There’s the fake Twitter account, BPGlobalPR, posing as the public relations mouthpiece for an arrogant powerhouse. Today it tweeted its 184,466 followers: “Attention lazy fishermen! If you won’t clean our mess, we’re taking your money. Fair is fair.” They also produced this fake press conference.

YouTube, not around in 1989, is brimming with satirical videos targeting BP. There’s BP spills coffee, now at more than 9 million views.  Spoof ads are also hot contenders for “viral” status:  Oil is natural and the slickly produced BP Bringing People Together are two of the more popular.

Parody t-shirts are a dime a dozeon on the Internet, with slogans such as “BP. We’re bringing oil to American shores.” Or the oil-smeared “BP Cares”.

Are Americans being too hard on the company? The spill in the Gulf of Mexico has so far cost the company $3 billion in clean-up costs. On a daily basis, BP repeats its commitment to taking full responsibility and will pay for all legitimate claims.

But the public is ruthless, and a question emerges, are critics hiding behind the anonymity of the blogosphere?

The Boycott BP group on Facebook is climbing with more than 450,000 followers — but actual protest rallies draw only a fraction of that.

Earlier this week, the UK’s Metro unleashed this doozie: a rare, early 1970s board game called “Offshore Oil Strike” produced by BP and partner Printabox where tycoons compete at exploring for oil and avoid hazard cards which threaten rig blowouts and oil spill costs.  No joke, although an odd self parody given the current situation.

The late Texan columnist Molly Ivins wrote, “Satire is traditionally the weapon of the powerless against the powerful.”

Is that what BP is now enduring? Intellectual egg tossing by people with no power?


Photo shows a protester holding a syrup covered plastic earth ball to protest against the BP oil spill on the North side of the White House in Washington June 16, 2010.  REUTERS/Larry Downing


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Come on Americans, this is your backyard!

This is an upward flow against gravity that pulls down. It can be stopped by some easy tricks on fluid dynamics using concepts of surface transport of particles. Bubbling flow upward can be clogged by high density objects coming down by gravity pull.

Instead of doing a junk shot with gulf balls and shredded tires they were supposed to put high density and sinking geometry to clog the well. We do it a lot in Soil Science and the Dust Bowl provides insights on surface transport of particles by erosion regarding detachment, transport, and deposition.

Hydrology is being curbed in the patenting affairs and technological development deeply missing now to solve simple problems like clogging a spilling well.

The use of golf balls in the junk shot is a clear evidence that the experts have no handle on deep Hydrology. I am not surprised since a sort of ‘scientific discovery’ in Hydrodynamics is being constantly violated by lay people as Patent Examiners, Patent Attorneys, and Scientists. Try to find any address of wick/wicking on Hydrology textbooks and you will see that this oil spill is something that could have been stopped on the day ONE if science were respected and honored. USPTO has near 6,000 Patent Examiners and it already confirmed that none of them is a Hydrologist!

This OIL SPILL is a consequence of a bunch of people pretending to be smart overstepping the boundaries of a classic science called HYDROLOGY.

Look at this. Mr. Obama assigned Dr. Regina Benjamin 42 lbs overweight to take care of your health system. A person near obese in the health system that cannot help herself is going to provide Americans insights to shed weight and be healthy. This way Americans are becoming 85% obese by 2040.

I suggested Mr. Obama to resign because my advanced breakthrough ‘scientific discovery’ in Hydrodynamics is being violated by flawed patents that even do not work. Why to ignore science? I already sent Mr. Obama 14 lettters regarding violations of Hydrology getting no reply. My doubt is if people at the White House read English or people around there do not need to care about their country outcome.

Just imagine if the well could be clogged in few hours by appropriate approach making gravity pull heavy objects downward on a bubbling upward flow with variable flow velocity due to the dragging effect of well casing.

The relief wells may not work as clay in the mud can only clog tiny pores but fail on cracks and fissures.

What is the chance that PB hires any Soil Scientist in the technical staff? What is the chance that BP Engineers ever learned about Soil Erosion to understand detachment, transport, and deposition of particles in a dynamic flow?

I believe this entire nightmare is preventable and consequence of a failing leadership you have.

How would I stop the spill?
Easily running some trials with a visible display employing translucent 22 in pipes with similar upward flow and check the dragging effect on many particle sizes and formats. The bubbling effect should increase fall by reducing the fluid density, as well as variable radial flow velocity which is higher in the center and lower around the containment case as a stationary surface.

When we start injecting the junk shot we know what to expect and change the particles sizes and formats as the velocity of spill reduces by the this downward effect from the falling particles. Lower and lower velocity suggests smaller and smaller particles until clay can be used to seal tiny pores inside the well lumen definitively.

What am I charging for it?
I just want USPTO to stop violating my ‘scientific discovery’ US pat. 6,766,817 with flawed patents that even do not work shamefully harming and dishonoring HYDROLOGY. I got PhD at Penn State University and Bill Clinton was the speecher of my commencement on May 10, 1996.

CNN is controlling info by removing comments on its website. I am curious who takes advantages by this ongoing catastrophe.

Posted by Tubarc | Report as abusive

The Valdez was a tanker that crashed with a finite amount of oil, not comparable. The bottom line was and is BP is responsible to stop the leak in a timely manner. Three months and they are still battling this mess. They were not prepared with solutions and that’s irresponsible.

The earned and deserve bad PR.

Posted by GSH10 | Report as abusive

Are Americans bullying BP? Read Obama’s lips, the fish stinks from its head.

Posted by bluedog4822 | Report as abusive

I think the problem is that all the actions to date have been undertaken with the intent to save possible production from the well; if they were really serious about stopping it they would’ve blown it up the day after the rig sank – period full stop. No phony caps or junk shots, but a straight detonation – the physics of explosions are much better understood than the technology of deepwater robotics.

Posted by CDNrebel | Report as abusive

Wouldn’t be so bad if the same thing didn’t happen twenty-one years ago, trying the same tricks that didn’t work, for months upon months. Different company, same issue. It’s as if, 1) they’re clueless, or 2) they don’t care.

BP has a history of playing fast and loose, paying fines as they go. Are we bullying them? Probably. Do they deserve it? Most definitely.

It’s absurd for anyone to expect any amount of sympathy for a soulless corporation, when the livelihood of so many ‘little people’ are completely ruined because of their (BPs) mistake.

Posted by aceniantor | Report as abusive

Forgive me, thirty-one years ago*

Posted by aceniantor | Report as abusive

BP’s first priority is BP in this case, not anything else. When companies made mistakes, they all rushed to the site to apologise; Hayward stated he wanted his life back. A tearful apology might have eased the American anger a little, but their behaviour is less then commendable.

Are Americans bullying BP? Would it be called bullying if a man got irate because someone threw a bunch of junk in their back garden? I think not.

There’s a difference between spilling the rubbish bin in your own back garden and doing the same in the neighbour’s garden.

Posted by GabrielleD | Report as abusive

The author clearly supports big business despite the extreme damage done. This is not something that BP can simply apologize for and expect to move on. This is an ecological disaster that could and probably will have an effect on generations to come. IMO BP has not suffered nearly the damage that it has caused. Although there are efforts, BP has not returned things to the way they were before its negligence caused this tragedy. Until they do, I say let the bullying go on! BP – BIG PROFITS BEFORE PEOPLE AND ENVIRONMENT

Posted by LawrenceP | Report as abusive

[…] Read this article: Are Americans bullying BP? – Reuters UK (blog) […]

Posted by Are Americans bullying BP? – Reuters UK (blog) | BP Oil | Report as abusive

I think that we are being too hard on BP. yes they made some bad decisions along the way but most of the actual drill work was subcontracted and all done to current law and standard practice. It could have happened to any company and if we don’t change current requirements and improve technology it will given time! Ease up everyone… I live along the Gulf Coast and I will forgive.

Posted by abkisa | Report as abusive

From an external, non-US, perspective America gives the impression that it no longer understands how business works and how it can be regulated; all the way from the banks to the energy industry. As evidenced by the banks, and now the oil industry, this leaves an open gap for those wishing to make profits or cut risky cost corners for their own or their corporate benefit to step through.
This lack of integration and understanding in government (eg drilling moratorium, Browner’s unlimited liability proposals etc.) leaves the US open to powerful non-democratic lobbies, like the Environmental Lobby, who have successfully campaigned against nuclear power, coal and now have the opportunity to shut-dwon the oil industry. WIth a lack of leadership in government there is only one way this can go.
Unfortunately, the environmental zealots do not understand the unintended consequences risks, as they probably don’t with Climate Change hypotheses, of losing industrial capacity, jobs and wealth. Luckily, in a decade or so, we won’t have to listen to America’s hegemonistic arrogance as we will have China and India with enough power to ensure that the new wealthy countries’ views are heard to the detriment of the US.
In this sense BP, as an individual entity, is not being targeted but the whole of the fossil fuel society is a target. I wonder if, in 10 years or so, the US will be rich enough to buy all those wind turbines and solar panels from China and India that they will need for their Green Revolution?

Posted by Sogoesit | Report as abusive

Very good points here. Being involved in social media and passionate about Sustainability this is always a difficult question.

Is the activism on the street more effective then online, or what do you do best to make your voice heard.

I believe that we as stakeholders need to practice all of the possibilities we have at our disposal to make our voices and opinion heard.

In the the case of BP this is even more so the case because of the scale of the disaster. We need to use all channels we have to oppose corporate malpractice.

Right now I am using the blogosphere but next week I am doing something different to make my voice heard.

That is what I call sustained stakeholder activism.

Posted by fpattberg | Report as abusive

Surely this piece is a joke. Bullying? Definition of bully:

To force one’s way aggressively or by intimidation.

If only we *could* bully BP! Clearly no one can make them do much. But that’s what happens when you go far too far in deregulating industry. Speaking of…

“yes they made some bad decisions along the way but most of the actual drill work was subcontracted and all done to current law and standard practice. It could have happened to any company and if we don’t change current requirements and improve technology it will given time!”

Exactly. But it’s BP and their oily brethren that routinely pay high-powered lobbyists big bucks to lobby in DC to lessen restrictions in every way possible. Too many of people have bought into the ridiculous concept that deregulation is the key to a bright and glittering economic future. And the average lawmaker who’s being offered huge campaign contributions from industry will happily hop aboard the corporate gravy train unless there’s a loud enough outcry from mainstream voters to make it too dangerous to their re-election bids. In short, BP and the rest of the industry has worked very hard for years to dictate “current law and practice.” Deregulation doesn’t happen by accident. And deregulation doesn’t favor business. It favors crooked business. But it can also create such an uneven playing field that it can put out of business those honest players that actually try to deal fairly with their employees and their customers and essentially try to be good corporate citizens.

Posted by lsessions | Report as abusive

Are you serious, Reuters? This to me is a piece that’s written just to be controversial because that draws attention. It’s simply offensive. Next time, try asking a real question like, “Are Americans Being Bullied By Corporations?”

Posted by ilau2 | Report as abusive

True that ilau2!

Posted by coyotle | Report as abusive

“Are Americans bullying BP?”
No, not even close as much as they should! As a non-US and non-UK citizen I observe this whole BP mess right from the very beginning and am shocked about BPs incompetence, ignorance and ruthlessness. But there are still some positive aspects in it too. 1) Americans are starting to wake up and become more interested in alternative energies 2) The catastrophic oil spills in other regions of the world are on the reporters lists too 3) Germany will become the first G20 country run 100% by renewable/alternative energies by 2050, 18% by now, to say “bye bye” to big oil, coal, natural gas and nuclear power.

Posted by SmartHomes | Report as abusive