BP suggested in a 2009 exploration plan and environmental impact analysis for the well that an accident leading to a giant crude oil spill and serious damage to beaches, fish and mammals was unlikely, or virtually impossible.
The plan for the Deepwater Horizon well, filed with the federal Minerals Management Service, said repeatedly that it was “unlikely that an accidental surface or subsurface oil spill would occur from the proposed activities.”
The company conceded a spill would impact beaches, wildlife refuges and wilderness areas, but argued that “due to the distance to shore and the response capabilities that would be implemented, no significant adverse impacts are expected.”
Why, this luxury liner is unsinkable! That same USA Today report quotes a University of Miami expert saying the size of the spill has tripled overnight, indicating that oil may be coming out of the damaged well at a much faster rate. The Coast Guard is more cautious about that. Also, there is now concern that sea currents will take the oil past the Florida Keys, devastating the coral reefs there, and then head up the East Coast.
Why it was only yesterday (2002, in fact)…:
Two years earlier, at a cost of $200 million, it began an enormous corporate rebranding exercise, shortening its name from British Petroleum to BP, coining the slogan ”Beyond Petroleum” and redesigning its corporate insignia. Out went the old British Petroleum shield that had been a familiar image in Britain for more than 70 years, and in came a green, yellow and white sunburst that seemed to suggest a warm and fuzzy feeling about the earth. BP press officers were careful not to explain exactly what ”Beyond Petroleum” meant, but the slogan, coupled with the cheerful sunburst, sent the message that the company was looking past oil and gas toward a benign, eco-friendly future of solar and renewable energy. New Yorkers in particular were the target of a high-saturation ad campaign that felt, at times, like an overfriendly stranger putting his arm around you in a bar. In Times Square, a huge billboard went up, reading if only we could harness the energy of new york city. Then the stranger, perhaps feeling the need to explain his intentions, went on: solar, natural gas, wind, hydrogen. and oh yes, oil. Finally, the stranger took his arm away with a bit of a shrug: it’s a start.
BP’s print and TV ad campaign, which is winding down this month, represents one of the most dazzlingly high-profile corporate P.R. efforts in recent years. Created by Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide, it aspires to a conversational, almost confidential voice that suggests, You know what oil companies do to the environment, and we do, too, but honestly, we’re not like that at all. ”People are skeptical of oil companies — go figure!” says Jennifer Ruys, director of external affairs for BP. ”And the ad campaign was designed to get at that skepticism.” As the billboards announce: BP was ”the first oil company to publicly recognize the risks of global climate change.” BP ”believes in alternative energy. Like solar and cappuccino.” BP has joined forces with New York’s Urban Park Rangers to, of all things, release four bald eagles into the wilds of Upper Manhattan. At the end of each ad was the same winking tag line: ”It’s a start.”
Yeah, it was.
[Image from the You're Doing It Wrong blog.]