Business Booms for BP: CEO Bob Dudley Calls 2011 “Best Year” in Three Decades


BP’s business prospects are soaring. In fact, 2011 was the British oil giant’s best “business development” year in three decades. It’s inconceivable, infuriating, repugnant – but true, nonetheless. While parts of the Gulf Coast remain soaked in BP’s oil, the British petroleum giant has been rewarded with scores of new drilling contracts – 80 to be exact, in 11 countries. And get this, the majority of the “exploration prospects” are in deep water (sound familiar?) in some of the most sought-after drilling frontiers on earth.

Really? Are our memories that short? How soon, it seems, the world has forgotten the egregious safety lapses and reckless cost-cutting efforts that led to the deaths of 11 workers and triggered the worst oil spill in U.S. history. It’s as if BP waved a wand and expunged its atrocious safety record – one of the very worst among major oil companies operating globally.

Ironically, nobody seems more stunned by BP’s inexplicable good fortune than company CEO Bob Dudley. Consider this Jan. 18 report from the British financial website “This is Money”:

Chief executive Bob Dudley said BP added exploration prospects equivalent to an area the size of Italy, an unlikely outcome given the firm’s role in the Deepwater Horizon disaster. ‘One of the surprises is that I thought we would have a more difficult time taking on exploration roles,’ the American said.

‘It’s been the best year in 30 years for increasing exploration acreage for BP’, he added…

Good lord, has the whole world gone mad? This is a company that based on its safety record has no right to operate a pickaxe let alone a deep-water oil rig. And yet governments and regulators around the world are rewarding BP’s failures and incompetence by showering the company with drilling contracts from Brazil to India to the west coast of Africa. To lend context, here’s a “skim the surface” assessment from ABC News (May 27, 2010) on how BP operates:

In two separate disasters prior to the Gulf oil rig explosion, 30 BP workers have been killed, and more than 200 seriously injured.

In the last five years, investigators found, BP has admitted to breaking U.S. environmental and safety laws and committing outright fraud. BP paid $373 million in fines to avoid prosecution.

BP’s safety violations far outstrip its fellow oil companies. According to the Center for Public Integrity, in the last three years, BP refineries in Ohio and Texas have accounted for 97 percent of the “egregious, willful” violations handed out by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

The violations are determined when an employer demonstrated either an “intentional disregard for the requirements of the [law], or showed plain indifference to employee safety and health.”

OSHA statistics show BP ran up 760 “egregious, willful” safety violations, while Sunoco and Conoco-Phillips each had eight, Citgo had two and Exxon had one comparable citation.

According to CEO Dudley, BP – with its bloated new book of business – will drill twice as many exploratory wells in 2012 than it did last year.

We can hardly wait. Happy new year, everybody.

Read the entire “This is Money” report by Rob Davies:

Read the ABC News piece on BP’s dismal safety record:

© Smith Stag, LLC 2012 – All Rights Reserved

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Stuart H. Smith is an attorney based in New Orleans fighting major oil companies and other polluters.
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