Opinion

The Great Debate

Brazil’s attack on Chevron is a dangerous error

A truly bizarre international incident has gone largely unnoticed, even though it is one of the most shameless shakedowns of an American company by another country in recent memory. What is happening now in Brazil could easily scare off U.S. companies that may be looking to do business overseas.

What happened was that a small amount of oil seeped from cracks in the ocean floor near an oil well that was operated by Chevron off Brazil’s coast. This oil seep occurred some 200 miles offshore, was successfully stopped in four days, has been fully contained, and caused no harm to the environment, wildlife or human health. The amount of oil that leaked from the cracks in the ocean floor was less than 0.1 percent the size of the BP spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Instead of sitting down with Chevron in candid talks to find preventive measures against future incidents, discuss reasonable reparations and additional cleanup, Brazil’s prosecutors went after Chevron like a rabid hound lunging after a hotdog.

After oil bubbled up from the ocean floor, Brazil’s prosecutors issued indictments seeking criminal charges, actual jail time for several company executives and fines large enough to fuel the economies of most Central American nations. Even more egregious is the fact that in 2010 Brazil’s own state-run oil company, Petrobras, spilled almost double the amount Chevron did in this incident and no one from Brazil’s oil company is facing charges or jail time.

When President Obama visited Brazil late last year, he promoted the partnership between America and the South American nation, saying: “We want to work with you. We want to help with technology and support to develop these oil reserves safely, and when you’re ready to start selling, we want to be one of your best customers.”

Why the coast is key to the survival of New Orleans

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The following is a guest post by Mark Davis, a senior research fellow and director of the Tulane Institute on Water Resources Law and Policy at Tulane Law School. The opinions expressed are his own.

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill the importance of the ecosystems surrounding New Orleans, and their vulnerability to mankind’s manipulations and mistakes, has never been clearer. Equally clear is the fact that for New Orleans to transform itself and create a better future, the metropolitan area must enter into a new, wiser relationship with the land and water surrounding it.

The fate and fortune of New Orleans have always been, and will always be, tied to the coast. In the past, New Orleans has had a troubled relationship with its watery environs. The proximity to the Mississippi River and the Gulf made the city’s founding and its rise to prominence possible. But the risk of flooding from the river, torrential rains, and the Gulf made it a hard bargain with nature from the beginning.

from The Great Debate UK:

Steve Tappin on what makes a CEO tick

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Being a CEO should be one of the best jobs in the world, argue the authors of a new book.

"It offers the chance to make a real difference," Steve Tappin and Andrew Cave write in The New Secrets of CEOs: 200 Global Chief Executives on Leading.

"However, real life for most CEOs is tough and many are not enjoying it."

The authors interviewed 200 CEOs for the book, which includes profiles of such leaders as Tesco's Terry Leahy , Avon's Andrea Jung, Xstrata's Mick Davis, Kraft's Irene Rosenfeld, Haier's Zhang Ruimin and Cisco's John Chambers.

BP’s crisis is no Three Mile Island

The catastrophic blowout at Macondo has sliced 40 percent off BP’s market capitalisation, and led analysts to speculate about lasting reductions in deepwater drilling and the resulting impact on both long-term oil supply and the fate of climate change legislation.

The underlying fear is that Macondo is the oil industry’s Three Mile Island, an accident that turned public opinion against nuclear power for three decades.

Investors are right to fear the long-term impact on the company. But they exaggerate the impact on the wider industry and the prospects for climate change legislation. BP however faces a very changed operating environment in future.

from The Great Debate UK:

BP Gulf of Mexico crisis will transform the oil industry

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-Kees Willemse is professor of off-shore engineering, Delft University.  The opinions expressed are his own.-

The news that a huge metal cap has been successfully placed over several of the leaking oil vents at the Deepwater Horizon site marks a potential turning point in the Gulf of Mexico crisis.

It is already estimated that each day some 10-15,000 barrels of the oil that are spilling out into the ocean are being captured and diverted to ships on the sea surface.

from The Great Debate UK:

How much damage will the BP oil spill cause?

-Kees Willemse is professor of offshore engineering at Delft University. The opinions expressed are his own.-

Last month’s explosion at the Deepwater Horizon rig continues to result in the leakage of an estimated 200,000 gallons (910,000 litres) of oil into the Gulf of Mexico each day.

According to U.S. President Barack Obama, “we are dealing with a massive and potentially unprecedented environmental disaster”.

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