Thursday, July 01, 2010

BP corporate "look good" safety culture

People working inside and with BP have been very concerned about the corporate culture regarding safety for years. BP has been long on the "looks good" safety, but very short on incorporating safety into the real value system people use for decision making every day - both short-term and long-term. Andrew B Wilson talks to people involved at Weekly Standard: Feel good: $200 million for rebranding. "Donations" to powerful politicians, etc. Safety in operations:
... a growing disillusionment with the company. In looking back over the last few years at BP, Houston was distressed at the way that corporate downsizing exercises seemed to target the best and most seasoned engineers. He was further distressed that BP had slashed the maintenance budget for the vast and aged Forties Alpha platform to a dangerous, even reckless extent, providing the platform’s operating engineers with less than 80 percent of the money they considered necessary to ensure the rig’s safety. He regarded the fine as risible and worried that it would only reinforce the prevailing complacency within the company. And finally, he told me over the course of several interviews, he was distressed by an abundance of rhetoric—coming from the CEO—about BP going “beyond petroleum” and joining the environmental activists in campaigning for reduced carbon emissions. “To me and everyone I knew, it didn’t make any sense. We were a petroleum company. That wasn’t going to change any time soon, and it wasn’t anything to be ashamed of, either. All the talk about windmills and solar power was just PR and a lot of nonsense.” In short, Houston no longer trusted the company to do the right thing. As someone who grew up idolizing the company, he came to the reluctant conclusion that BP itself was an accident waiting to happen: It was taking on increasingly ambitious exploration and production challenges, while demonstrating an increasingly indifferent or cavalier attitude toward engineering discipline and excellence. On top of all that, senior management seemed less than fully engaged in the difficult task of extracting and producing petroleum.
BTW: No posting yesterday -- Our neighbor at our cabin has been lax in providing us free internet access with their wifi spilling over. I better put the fear in him. No. I offered to buy him a wifi router since his broke.

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