Thursday, June 10, 2010

Not Beyond Petroleum By a Long Shot

Holman Jenkins on BP's prospects: They aren't good.
Under its previous leader, John Browne, BP sprouted a new logo, green and sunny, and told the world it was "beyond petroleum." BP was not beyond petroleum. Lord Browne used the green camouflage to carry out a politically tricky consolidation of the oil business, absorbing two American players, Amoco and Arco, and turning BP into a global giant, more committed to petroleum than ever.

When speaking to grownups, Lord Browne, who was a microcosm of our hypocrisies on energy, could be a human flip chart arguing for the inevitability of the world's reliance on oil for decades to come. He was a complex character, and his leadership ended when he admitted lying in a lawsuit concerning a companion he met on a website.

Worse, a company can't prioritize everything, and while BP was prioritizing PR and acquisitions, it wasn't prioritizing operations. His legacy has come to be darkened in retrospect by a pattern of accidents, including a Texas refinery explosion, a serious pipeline failure in Alaska, numerous smaller incidents, and finally the catastrophe in the gulf
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