Thursday, June 03, 2010

Even my guinea pigs don't know how to stop BP's oil leak

This morning I asked my guinea pigs if they knew how to stop the oil leaking from BP's Deepwater Horizon rig in the gulf of Mexico. They did not seem to have any idea. The older one just stared at me blankly. The younger one simply turned his face away.

Then I asked the tree outside my house. From my childhood, I remember having read about a wise tree which had all the answers. But the tree I spoke to seemed quite dumb. No response.

Then I noticed a crow sitting on a branch of the tree. Crows are considered stupid as I remember from my childhood story of a crow and a cunning fox. Still thought no harm in trying luck, for BP's sake. I asked the crow if it had any idea how to stop the oil leak. The crow looked at me suspiciously and flew away.

I have heard BP has already asked Steven Spielberg if he can help in stopping the leak. Wondering if they have asked Mr. Bean. He may have an idea or two for BP.

How about asking Stephenie Meyer? She might know some secret community of vampires who feed on oil rather than blood? With any luck, these vampires could be potentially deployed.

Or perhaps they should ask a couple of fortune tellers in India. A tantric may even help by sending an army of ghosts or demons to the gulf of Mexico to stop the leak instantly.

So here we have a master stroke by BP's public relations machine. By asking the public to give ideas on how to stop the gushing oil, BP is trying to create an impression that managing this disaster is beyond currently known scientific knowledge and that the company can not be blamed for whatever is happening. They are also giving an impression that this disaster is an unfathomable accident, beyond humble humans' understanding.

And they are right. Even my guinea pigs don't know how to stop this damn leak. How on earth BP scientists and engineers would know the solution?

The real question is where is the copy of the risk assessment BP carried out (I hope they did) for this rig. And what were the risks they identified? And what was done to manage those risks?

BP has not yet said that they will not contest the penalties imposed by the US authorities whether civil or criminal. They have not said that they will not use the might of expensive lawyers to drag the court proceedings to delay or deny paying the penalties (as Exxon did so successfully after the Valdez oil spill disaster).

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