It’s easy to be pessimistic about the big oil companies, who, like banks are the unspoken scourge of the populace. And also like banks, sadly we all need their services – an unhealthy conundrum best left alone, it seems most people believe. That is, until something goes terribly wrong, like with the recent Deepwater Horizon disaster; images of oil-cloaked sea birds and fiery geysers inspire collective revulsion for our oil dependent ways – and more directed towards the companies that provide it. But, we still need to drive our cars, so after the public flogging of BP, and recently Chevron, what really has changed with deepwater drilling?
Much has changed with big oil, apparently. An interesting piece recently appeared in the Guardian by the energy editor, Terry Macallister, highlighting the lengths that BP is going to, far above paying the massive fine levied on them ($22bn and counting), and the firing of those deemed culpable. As Macallister points out, “BP has brought in astronauts from Nasa, nuclear physicists and a host of other non-oil men and women in an attempt to learn about safety in other industries. The company has also set up a safety and organisational risk management team that reports directly to the group chief executive, Bob Dudley.” Solid steps, it seems.
There appears to be a serious undertaking by the industry to not let this happen again (much more so than with the financial sector!), and it doesn’t stop with the internal regulations of the oil companies themselves. The U.S. government has axed the seemingly duplicitous Minerals Management Service, because they were in charge of handling both the safety of oil rigs and the revenues from them – ludicrous, isn’t it. And obviously, there is still much to do in terms of responsibility, and the population needs to continue to be vigilant with their criticisms of big oil, and government, but it’s nice to think that at least serious steps have been taken by the industry – not just cosmetic ones – to stop this from recurring. Next move folks – renewables.