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BP (mis)handles Gulf of Mexico Oil Spew

Beyond Petroleum?

The recent industrial accident in the Gulf of Mexico due to the oil well rupture from the British Petroleum (BP) has raised global cries against the petroleum giant and it’s claim of acting to contain the damage. While BP has gone on a PR war to contain the damage to it’s image, gulf residents and environmentalists are up in arms to take the fight to BP’s door.

Not many would remember the 2007, exit of the then BP CEO, Lord John Browne, who was removed owing to his sexual preferences and private life being exposed. Jeffrey Sonnenfeld in BusinessWeek had written an article which claimed to bring out “the real scandal at BP“. The article leveled a wide array of charges against BP ranging from PR misadventures to wrong business decisions being made by the BP boss.

Browne himself set the bar high. In addition to acquiring Amoco and Arco, he launched BP’s $200 million image campaign with the tagline that BP stands for “Beyond Petroleum”–embodying principles such as “delivering performance without tradeoffs” in areas ranging from worker safety to the environment. But two years ago, examining actual expenditures in alternative energy, Greenpeace gave Browne an award for the “Best Impression of an Environmentalist.”

Source: businessweek.com

The reason Browne’s memory comes to forth is the recent incident where environmental concerns and PR mismanagement are visible.

Demonstrators claim that the Worldwide BP Protest Day will be marked in over 50 cities in 5 continents on Saturday, June 12, 2010. Protesters are using any and every mode of communication possible. Social media and networking sites are flooded by such communities. The worst thing for BP is the fact that such protests are getting a lot of support.

  • The Facebook Worldwide BP Protest Day page
  • The CODEPINK protest page
  • Boycottbp.org
  • The Financial Times list top-10 online and offline protests:
  • 1 Million Strong Against Offshore Drilling: FB Page started by 350.org,the group is growing steadily with 135,000 fans and counting.
  • Boycott BP: Unquestionably the fastest-growing online movement, Boycott BP started as a Facebook group and is now expanding to multiple international websites. The group asks the public to boycott all BP stations including Castrol, Arco, Aral and AM/PM. The group’s followers have swelled to 450,000.
  • BPGlobalPR: The satirical Twitter feed @BPGlobalPR. (Latest one reads: “Having a conscience was definitely not in the job description when I took the position. ^Tony“)
  • Public Citizen arrest: On June 4 a coalition of nonprofit organizations gathered in Washington, D.C., to make a “citizen’s arrest” of an effigy of BP CEO Tony Hayward. The coalition is now calling for a three-month boycott of BP.
  • World BP Protest Day: June 12 will mark a worldwide protest of BP. Also being organized on Facebook, the group now has commitments for a march in 33 cities.
  • Code Pink: You have to love the brave and impassioned Code Pink Women for Peace.
  • Seize BP: The group wants the U.S. government to seize all of BP’s assets and use them to pay back the damages from the oil spill. Not likely, but they make their point!
  • Change.org’s full debarment plan: Change.org is asking to push the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to recommend a full “discretionary debarment” of BP, which means no more U.S. government contracts, no new leases in the U.S. and all existing leases canceled. The EPA was already investigating the possibility for debarment and it is expected the agency will open the issue to public comment in the near future.
  • Beyond Oil
  • Hands Across the Sand

Source: FinancialPost.com

It’s clear that BP had never expected as much public outcry on this issue. Now that it has muck flying from every corner, BP is going all out to control the damage, at least the BP damage. It’s home page is splashed with the damage control initiatives it has taken and is being updated constantly.

Politicians in US too are not behind. While they may be honest about their concerns or just trying to gain some political mileage but the fact remains that BP’s mismanagement and misrepresentation about the extent of damage have led to questions being raised on it’s integrity.

BP misrepresented what their technology could do,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Friday. “They misrepresented the amount of oil that was being spewed forth into the Gulf and continued to do so.”

This is a matter of integrity,” Pelosi said. “BP stated that they had the technology to drill deep, to prevent a blowout and that they had the technology to clean up, and none of these things happened to be a fact.”

Source: CNN.com

On one hand while the world is ready to go all out against the global petroleum gaint, billionaire and Mayor of the New York City stood by the company. In a statement on a radio show Bloomberg went on record to support BP.

“The guy that runs BP didn’t exactly go down there and blow up the well,” he told a radio program. “And what’s more, if you want them to fix it and they are the ones with the expertise, I think I might wait to assign blame until we get it fixed.”

Source: CNN.com

The British PM David Cameron too had similar sentiments which seemed to be fueled more by “economic” motives.

The prime minister explained that he was frustrated and concerned about the environmental damage caused by the leak, but made clear his view that BP is an economically important company in the UK, US and other countries,” the spokesman said in a news release.

He said that it is in everyone’s interests that BP continues to be a financially strong and stable company.”

Source: CNN.com

While officials, protesters and other interest groups are fighting a pitched battle, oil continues to leak. BP is taking measures to contain the damage but would it be enough?

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“Indian Summer” gets cold shouldered

Nehru bidding farewell to Edwina after partition

Nehru bidding farewell to Edwina after partition

The much hyped Hollywood movie Indian Summer being produced by Universal Studios has been put on the backburner, at least for now. Indian Summer is a story of the alleged relation between Edwina Mountbatten (wife of last Viceroy of British ruled India, Lord Mountbatten) and the first Indian prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru.  The film is based on Alex Von Tunzel-Mann’s book – Indian Summer, The Secret History of the End of Empire.

Variety magazine reported that the movie which was planned to be shot in India starting early 2010 has now been put on hold by Universal Studios due to two main reasons. The first being differences in the budget being granted by the production house and actual estimates by the director Helmer Joe Wright who is now believed to be waiting for better market situations to emerge. Universal had approved a budget of under 30 million while the actual being projected are between USD 30-40 million.

The second reason behind the decision was the logistic issues of filming a major production in India. Further the creative differences over how much to emphasize the alleged love affair between the two historic figures also seems to have become a bottleneck.

We were in between a rock and a hard place,” Wright said. “The Indian government wanted us to make less of the love story while the studio wanted us to make more of the love story.”

Meanwhile Nehru’s niece Nayantara Sahgal in an interview said that the relation between two was purely platonic. Lady Pamela Mountbatten, daughter of Earl Mountbatten in an interview to CNN-IBN (which was published in Indian daily The Hindu) had also voiced similar sentiments and termed the relation “platonic” while confessing that Edwina had other affairs.

Nehru-Edwina lighting it up

Nehru-Edwina lighting it up

In the first interview given by any member of the Mountbatten family on the relationship between Lady Mountbatten and Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first Prime Minister, Lady Pamela Hicks, Earl Mountbatten’s youngest daughter, has said she does not believe Nehru and Lady Mountbatten had a sexual relationship but added “maybe everybody will think I’m being very naïve.”

Some Indian directors also seem skeptical to take up the project given the controversy around the subject. While individuals and govt. deliberate on what and how to show an Indian director already seems to be pitching in to take up the role of filming the saga.

Director Onir, however, wouldn’t mind attempting such a subject should a producer be game. “I’ve dealt with films that explore uncomfortable areas. It’s important that such a film is made in India,” says Onir, adding, “Unfortunately, our fraternity doesn’t have the artistic freedom. I shudder to think that a director has to apologise before for using the word Bombay and not Mumbai in his film. I don’t mind exploring the relationship between Nehru-Edwina. If someone approaches me with the right budget, I wouldn’t mind doing a film on this issue!

British daily The Telegraph meanwhile reported that the Indian govt. had approved the script sans the intimate scenes and the reasons for shelving the movie is simply financial. Foreign movies shot in india need approval of a vetting committee.

All foreign films shot in India must be approved by a vetting committee which screens the script to make sure “nothing detrimental to the image of India or the Indian people is shot or included in the film”.

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