It was Big Oil's nightmare moment, and the dominoes began falling years before the well was drilled.
Two decades ago, British Petroleum, a venerable and storied corporation, was running out of oil reserves. Along came a new CEO of vision and vast ambition, John Browne, who pulled off one of the greatest corporate turnarounds in history.
BP bought one company after another and then relentlessly fired employees and cut costs. It skipped safety procedures, pumped toxic chemicals back into the ground, and let equipment languish, even while Browne claimed a new era of environmentally sustainable business as his own. For a while the strategy worked, making BP one of the most profitable corporations in the world. Then it all began to unravel, in felony convictions for environmental crimes and in one deadly accident after another. Employees and regulators warned that BP’s problems, unfixed, were spinning out of control, that another disaster—bigger and deadlier—was inevitable. Nobody was listening.
Having reported on business and the energy industry for nearly a decade, Abrahm Lustgarten uses interviews with key executives, former government investigators, and whistle-blowers along with his exclusive access to BP’s internal documents and emails to weave a spellbinding investigative narrative of hubris and greed well before the gulf oil spill.
The April 2010 explosion that sank the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig and released millions of gallons of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico was a catastrophic accident, but no anomaly, according to ProPublica reporter Lustgarten s investigation. Indeed, it was all too predictable given the track record and management culture of Deepwater s operator, British Petroleum. Echoing the government s own finding, but belying the Obama administration s about-face with respect to Gulf drilling and the expansion of drilling in Alaska, Lustgarten s account makes clear that the disaster emerged from a business culture driven by Wall Street and a younger management class s obsession with shareholder profits. The deadly 2005 explosion at BP s Texas City Refinery and a 2006 Alaska spill arise amid a policy of drastic budget cutting under the leadership of John Browne and Tony Hayward. Lustgarten can be inconsistent in casting BP as a bad apple in the oil industry, while invoking a corporate ethos that makes self-policing impossible, but this often breathless account is a wakeup call, and affords a timely consideration of the nature of international business and its relationship to government.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Run To Failure
An excellent book. Very revealing history of not just BP but the entire oil industry.