Beyond Petroleum Spills?

British Petroleum and the Environment

British Petroleum (BP) has once again been very much in the headlines recently as they struggled to contain an oil spill from a rig the company had been leasing in the Gulf of Mexico.
Early reports seemed to indicate that perhaps a lack of maintenance on the rig was a problem and it is true that the blowout preventer, a series of valves designed to shut off any oil leak did not function correctly, part of the reason that the flow of oil was so difficult to halt.
BP is currently the third largest global energy company and unfortunately in the past doesn’t have a flawless record. The 2010 Deepwater Horizon incident, in which 11 lives were lost when the rig exploded and ultimately sank into the waters of the Gulf of Mexico, is not the first time the company has been involved in an oil spill. In Prudoe Bay, Alaska in 2006 the company had to halt operations when corrosion in offshoot pipelines caused over one million liters of oil to spill into Alaska’s North Slope.
That incident came unfortunately only a year after an explosion had rocked the company’s largest refinery in Texas, resulting in the deaths of 15 people and forcing a town to come to a practical halt for several days.
Despite a shakeup in 2007 under a new management team and several forays into alternative energy projects British Petroleum still takes a lot of heat from environmentalists. The company has been accused on many occasions of “greenwashing” – the practice of trying to look like one is making environmentally conscious efforts and innovations but failing.
BP have made some green gains however. They are now one of the largest generators of wind power in the world and have made large inroads into the solar power business. However, in the aftermath of yet another environmental disasdter they still have a long way to go.
To learn more about BP and its’ environmental record visit Tip the Planet, the internet’s fastest growing green wiki.

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