Newspaper logo  
 
 
Local Stories, Events

Ref. : Civic Events

Ref. : Arts & Education Events

Ref. : Public Service Notices

Books, Films, Arts & Education
Letters

Ref. : Letters to the editor

Health Care & Environment

10.22 These are the shocking numbers behind America's opioid epidemic

10.21 Teen Climate Activist to Crowd of Thousands: 'We Can't Save the World by Playing by the Rules Because the Rules Have to Change'

10.20 Robotic indoor farms can grow food anywhere, anytime [we'll need this when our children and grandchildren have to live underground ...]

10.20 UK is endangering people's health by denying their right to clean air, says UN

10.20 Scottish Power to invest in solar energy for the first time

10.20 Politicians say nothing, but US farmers are increasingly terrified by it – climate change

10.20 'Making Sacrifices for All of Us,' Indigenous Water Protectors Arrested at Pipeline Company's Shareholder Meeting

10.19 EPA to unveil plans to weaken rule limiting toxic mercury pollution [Trump's rats fight back! What does the "P" in EPA stand for now?]

10.18 As the fracking protesters show, a people’s rebellion is the only way to fight climate breakdown

10.17 Could carbon-capture technology be a silver bullet to stop climate change?

10.17 So many animals will go extinct in the next 50 years that it will take Earth at least 3 million years to recover, a study has found

10.16 Can We Go Electric Before It’s Too Late?

10.16 'I leave the car at home': how free buses are revolutionising one French city [with electric or hydrogen buses the cities can be much less polluted and cleaner with far fewer cars]

10.16 Why Public Transportation Works Better Outside the U.S.

10.16 Scottish Power shifts to 100% wind generation after £700m Drax sale

10.16 Australia should be 'exporting sunshine, not coal', economist Jeffrey Sachs tells Q&A

News Media Matters

10.21 In Bolsonaro's New Brazil, Far-Right Evangelical Billionaire's Media Empire Is Being Exploited to Investigate Journalists

Daily: FAIR Blog
The Daily Howler

US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'

10.22 How a Gang of Hedge Funders Strip-Mined Kentucky’s Public Pensions

10.22 ‘The next Joe Arpaio’: the Maryland sheriff praised by Fox and Trump [How to profit from desperate, suffering people? Sheriff Chuck Jenkins makes the county money—and increases the national deficit and debt—by jailing more immigrants longer.]

10.22 The women’s wave is coming. Republicans should be worried

10.21 Here Are Three Easy Fixes to Social Security and Medicare that Republicans Don’t Want You to Know About

10.21 Entire broadband industry sues Vermont to stop state net neutrality law [Cool!]

10.21 Tribalism Is Not the Problem

10.20 Mapping Student Debt [interactive map may inspire you to call Betsy DeVos!]

10.20 GOP candidate improperly purged 340,000 from Georgia voter rolls, investigation claims [Republicans are flagrantly cheating again...]

Justice Matters

10.18 Is Fraud Part of the Trump Organization’s Business Model? [Obviously!]

High Crimes?

10.18 Nicaragua used 'weapons of war' to kill protesters, says Amnesty International [why refugee immigrants rightly see jail in the US as an improvement]

10.18 How We Can End the Saudis’ War in Yemen [THERE IS NO EXCUSE FOR WAR CRIMES]

Economics, Crony Capitalism

10.17 Britain fell for a neoliberal con trick – even the IMF says so

International & Futurism

10.22 Global 'War on Drugs' Terrible at Eradicating Drugs, But Great at Upending Societies: Report

10.21 Almost 700,000 march to demand ‘people’s vote’ on Brexit deal

10.21 India: why collecting water turns millions of women into second-class citizens [And what did you do today?]

10.21 Saudi insiders would love to depose Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, whose role in the Khashoggi scandal has made him toxic, but they can't see a way to do it

10.21 “We Were Terrorizing Some of the Most Exploited People on Earth”

10.21 10 Sunday Reads

10.21 Trump says US will withdraw from nuclear arms treaty with Russia

10.20 This 3D-printed house made of earth and rice husks costs less than an iPhone [video]

10.20 Khashoggi case sends fresh chill through Saudi elite [like the disgust and fear many in America feel]

10.20 John Bolton pushing Trump to withdraw from Russian nuclear arms treaty

We are a non-profit Internet-only newspaper publication founded in 1973. Your donation is essential to our survival.

You can also mail a check to:
Baltimore News Network, Inc.
P.O. Box 42581
Baltimore, MD 21284-2581
Google
This site Web
  British Petroleum's ''Smart Pig''
Newspaper logo

NEWS BACKGROUND & OPINION:

British Petroleum's "Smart Pig"

The Brilliantly Profitable Timing of the Alaska Oil Pipeline Shutdown

by GREG PALAST
The "pig" is an electronic drone that BP should have been using continuously, though they had not done so for 14 years.
Tues., Aug. 9, 2006--Is the Alaska Pipeline corroded? You bet it is. Has been for more than a decade. Did British Petroleum shut the pipe yesterday to turn a quick buck on its negligence, to profit off the disaster it created? Just ask the "smart pig."

Years ago, I had the unhappy job of leading an investigation of British Petroleum's management of the Alaska pipeline system. I was working for the Chugach villages, the Alaskan Natives who own the shoreline slimed by the 1989 Exxon Valdez tanker grounding.

Even then, courageous government inspectors and pipeline workers were screaming about corrosion all through the pipeline. I say "courageous" because BP, which owns 46% of the pipe and is supposed to manage the system, has been known to hunt down and destroy the careers of those who warn of pipeline problems.

In one case, BP's CEO of Alaskan operations hired a former CIA expert to break into the home of a whistleblower, Chuck Hamel, who had complained of conditions at the pipe's tanker facility. BP tapped his phone conversations with a US congressman and ran a surveillance and smear campaign against him. When caught, a US federal judge said BP's acts were "reminiscent of Nazi Germany."

This was not an isolated case. Captain James Woodle, once in charge of the pipe's Valdez terminus, was blackmailed into resigning the post when he complained of disastrous conditions there. The weapon used on Woodle was a file of faked evidence of marital infidelity. Nice guys, eh?

Now let's talk timing. BP's suddenly discovered corrosion necessitating an emergency shut-down of the line. This is the same corrosion Dan Lawn has been screaming about for 15 years. Lawn is a steel-eyed government inspector who has kept his job only because his union's lawyers have kept BP from having his head.

Indeed, it's pretty darn hard for BP to claim it is surprised to find corrosion this week when Lawn issued a damning report on corrosion right after a leak and spill were discovered on March 2 of this year.

Why shut the pipe now? The timing of a sudden inspection and fix of a decade-long problem has a suspicious smell. A precipitous shutdown in mid-summer, in the middle of Middle East war(s), is guaranteed to raise prices and reap monster profits for BP. The price of crude jumped $2.22 a barrel on the shutdown news, to over $76. How lucky for BP which sells four million barrels of oil a day. Had BP completed its inspection and repairs a couple years back -- say, after Dan Lawn's tenth warning -- the oil market would have hardly noticed.

But $2 a barrel is just the beginning of BP's shut-down bonus. The Alaskan oil was destined for the California market, which now faces a supply crisis at the very height of the summer travel season. The big winner is ARCO petroleum, the largest retailer in the Golden State. ARCO is a 100%-owned subsidiary of ... British Petroleum.

Enron Corporation was infamous for deliberately timing repairs to maximize profit. Would BP also manipulate the market in such a crude manner?
BP could have fixed the pipeline problem this past winter, after their latest corrosion-caused oil spill. But then ARCO would have lost the summertime supply-squeeze windfall.

Enron Corporation was infamous for deliberately timing repairs to maximize profit. Would BP also manipulate the market in such a crude manner? Some US prosecutors think they did so in the US propane market. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) just six weeks ago charged the company with approving a scheme to crank up the price of propane sold in poor rural communities in the US. One former BP exec has pleaded guilty.

Lord Browne, the imperious CEO of BP, has apologized for that scam, for the Alaska spill, for this week's shutdown and for the deaths in 2005 of 15 workers at the company's mortally sloppy refinery operation at Texas City, Texas.

I don't want readers to think BP isn't civic-minded. The company's US CEO, Bob Malone, was Co-Chairman of the Bush re-election campaign in Alaska. Mr. Bush, in turn, was so impressed with BP's care of Alaska's environment that he pushed again to open the state's arctic wildlife refuge (ANWR) to drilling by the BP consortium.

Indeed, you can go to Alaska today and see for yourself the evidence of BP's care of the wilderness. You can smell it: the crude oil still on the beaches from the Exxon Valdez spill.

Exxon took all the blame for the spill because they were dumb enough to have the company's name on the ship. But it was BP's pipeline managers who filed reports that oil spill containment equipment was sitting right at the site of the grounding near Bligh Island. However, the reports were bogus; the equipment wasn't there, and so the beaches were poisoned. At the time, our investigators uncovered four-volumes' worth of faked safety reports and concluded that BP was at least as culpable as Exxon for the 1,200 miles of oil-destroyed coastline.

Nevertheless, m'Lord Browne preens himself with his corporation's environmental record. We know BP cares about nature because they have lots of photos of solar panels in their annual reports -- and they've painted every one of their gas stations green.

The green paint-job is supposed to represent the oil giant's love of Mother Nature. But the good Lord, Mr. Browne, knows it stands for the color of the Yankee dollar.

BP claims the profitable timing of its Alaska pipe shutdown can be explained because they've only now run a "smart pig" through the pipes to locate the corrosion. The "pig" is an electronic drone that BP should have been using continuously, though they had not done so for 14 years. The fact that, in the middle of an oil crisis, they've run it through now, forcing the shutdown, reminds me, when I consider Lord Browne's closeness to George Bush, that the company's pig is, indeed, very, very smart.
Greg Palast, an energy economist and investigative reporter, is the author of "Exxon Valdez: A Well-Designed Disaster." His reports can be seen on BBC Television's "Newsnight," "Democracy Now!" and in Harper's Magazine. He wrote the recently-released New York Times bestseller, ARMED MADHOUSE: Who's Afraid of Osama Wolf?, China Floats Bush Sinks, the Scheme to Steal '08, No Child's Behind Left and other Dispatches from the Front Lines of the Class War.

Copyright © 2006 The Baltimore Chronicle. All rights reserved.

Republication or redistribution of Baltimore Chronicle content is expressly prohibited without their prior written consent.

This story was published on August 8, 2006.
 

Public Service Ads: