There has perhaps never been a crisis on a scale quite like the continuing BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. And, almost as disturbing as what could be incalculable ecological damage, has been, in my opinion, an unconscionable reaction by those responsible. Never mind the U.S. government’s negligence in allowing such offshore drilling without disaster plans in place.
BP does have up a slick “Gulf of Mexico Response” micro-site containing up to the minute news and information, including BP’s on-going efforts at ocean damage control and cleanup efforts. There’s even an hour-long technical briefing meeting video as well as underwater film of the containment dome attempt. However, the oil giant’s overall response has been as fumbling as its mitigation attempts.
Original estimates from BP and the federal government as to the sheer amount of oil that is gushing into the gulf from the damaged underwater pipeline are now said by some experts to be four times more than initially communicated—perhaps as high as 3 million gallons a day.
Last week’s performance before Congress also left much to be desired with finger pointing between BP, primary operator of the rig Deepwater Horizon; Transocean, owner; and Haliburtan, primary contractor responsible for cementing the well. Not to be outdone, Tony Hayward, chief executive of BP, was quoted by the U.K.’s Guardian newspaper as saying that the volume of oil spilling into the Gulf is “relatively tiny” compared with the “very big ocean.”
Misrepresenting facts, deflecting blame and making light of a situation all represent the absolute antithesis of adversity management. And where is the sense of urgency in getting this thing solved? Instead we are fed a steady stream of vague timeframes and new fix options that might work, maybe. If BP and their corporate partners in this mess don’t turn things around soon, they might find those horrific tar balls that are washing onto shore on Gulf coast beaches put to use for a time-worn application used for con artists and snake oil salesmen: tar and feathering.