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Wed, 2010-06-23 17:25Richard Littlemore
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Rick George Defends Oil Industry's Poor R&D Record

Transocean’s Man in the Tar Sands

Suncor President and CEO Rick George - who is also on the Board of Directors of the Gulf-spilling service company, Transocean - seems to have spent Tuesday stumbling over his own tongue. First, he annoyed Alberta Deputy Premier Doug Horner by supporting a carbon tax that is applied evenly across the country.

That, Horner groused, amounts to a national energy policy, the likes of which no Alberta politician will ever tolerate.

Then, at the same event (an Air and Waste Management conference in Calgary), the Suncor boss both prodded the oil and gas industry to do more research - and then rose incredibly to defend the industry’s current, pathetic R&D record.

Mon, 2010-06-21 10:53Richard Littlemore
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BP funds full court press by DC lobbyists

The Washington Post has done a nice round-up of how desperately BP is trying to circle the lobbyists in an effort to minimize the political price it will pay for devastating the Gulf Coast.

But per Jim Hoggan’s analysis here last week, no amount of PR spin will rescue the company when its own partner, Anadarko, is accusing BP of recklessness and incompetence.

The lobbyist line, of course, is that they’re just there to help. In fact, the Post quotes “a lobbyist for one of the key players,” saying this:

“I think for the most part the lobbyists for all the companies have just been trying to give information to people; it has not been focused on policy questions at all. There’s a thirst for information despite the media saturation.”

Wouldn’t that sound so much more convincing if BP (“5,000 barrels per day”) had been disseminating information that was accurate?

Fri, 2010-06-11 17:50Jim Hoggan
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BP’s Crisis Communications Strategy Is Fundamentally Flawed

How a company handles a crisis is the ultimate test of its character. 

Does it accept responsibility for mistakes or bad decisions, work to make amends and to improve its practices moving forward? 

Or does it resort to what I call Darth Vader PR, launching a public relations offensive to spin the public, seeking to deflect legitimate criticism?

If you fail this crisis communications test, as BP has recently, it usually indicates underlying character problems in your organization.  It demonstrates that you are out of touch with the momentous shift of social norms towards a more sustainable economic and environmental future. 
 
The New York Times reported recently that BP CEO Tony Hayward is in the crosshairs for his repeated gaffes and BP’s alleged cover-ups:

“Instead of reassuring the public, critics say, Mr. Hayward has turned into a day-after-day reminder of BP’s public relations missteps in responding to the crisis…
Mr. Hayward and the company have repeatedly played down the size of the spill, the company’s own role in the April 20 explosion of the Deepwater Horizon, and the environmental damage that has occurred. At the same time, they have projected a tone of unrelenting optimism despite repeated failures to plug the well.”


There’s a word for that ‘unrelenting optimism’ in the face of total failure to get the job done – incompetence.  BP not only can’t plug the blowout, the company can’t even express genuine concern about the impact of its growing mess.  There’s a word for that too – insincerity.

Thu, 2010-06-10 19:00Morgan Goodwin
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Exercise in Denial: BP Still Claims No Oil Plumes

BP Executives Tony Hayward and Doug Suttles have repeatedly denied the existence of underwater oil plumes in recent weeks.  They cite expert evidence and studies, even as multiple other studies have shown the existence of plumes.  Just how deep is the culture of denial in this large oil company?

Energy Boom reported on May 31st that “Hayward said samples taken by the company show no evidence of large masses of underwater oil.  He said that oil’s natural tendency is to rise to rise to the surface, and any oil underwater is currently making its way to the top.”

Days earlier, on May 28th, the Wall Street Journal reported a University of South Florida research vessel discovered an oil plume 1300 feet below the surface.  Then on June 9th, a two-week research expedition on the Walton Smith (pictured above) found overwhelming amounts of evidence for plumes and large clouds of oil below the surface.  The samples, pulled from depths of up to 1200 meters “stank to high heaven,” researcher Smanatha Joye said. “They smelled like creosote, asphalt and diesel.”

Yet on June 9th BP COO of Exploration and Production told NBC’s Today show still defended Hayward’s statement, saying “we haven’t found any large concentrations of oil under the sea” and that it “may be down to how you define what a plume is here.” Watch the whole chilling interview:

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Wed, 2010-05-05 12:50Morgan Goodwin
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Offshore Drilling Industry Has Its Own 'Conservation Organization'

One surefire way for conservation groups not to criticize the largest offshore drilling company in the world in the wake of a huge spill is for that company to sponsor and support its own conservation organization.

In this 2005 image, GMF President John LaRue accepts a check from BP’s Hugh Depland (left) at a recent reception.

Unfortunately, the deep connections between the Gulf of Mexico Foundation and Transocean Limited, (owners of the disastrous Deepwater Horizon rig) were omitted by the New York Times this week, which wrote a surprisingly positive front-page story about how the drilling disaster ‘wasn’t that bad’.  NYTimes reporters Tom Zeller Jr. and John M. Broder spend the first half of the article on quotes from Edward Overton of LSU and Quenton Dokken of the Gulf of Mexico Foundation.

Sat, 2010-03-13 15:06Leslie Berliant
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Partisanship and Disinformation Surrounding Global Warming Taking their Toll

A new Gallup poll shows that compared to three years ago, twice as many Americans believe that global warming’s consequences are exaggerated.

And in just the last year, there has been an increase in skepticism from 41% to 48%.

The chart below shows a number of trends. Skepticism about global warming was generally low in 1997, when the polling started, before climate change was getting regular news coverage, either fact or opinion based.

In fact, the level of skepticism did not change much with the increasing coverage of climate change in the wake of An Inconvenient Truth, increasingly publicized consensus among the vast majority of climate scientists that global warming was real, human caused and potentially devastating, the Third Assessment Report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2001, or even the Nobel prize winning Fourth IPCC Assessment Report in 2007. So, we could assume that roughly 30% of the skeptics are not going to be persuaded by science. They have their opinion and they are sticking to it.

Thu, 2009-08-20 14:52Kevin Grandia
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Texas and New Mexico ‘Energy Citizens’ Events Are Really “Energy Employees” Rallies

Oil industry employees continued their ‘Energy Citizens’ tour today in conservative towns in New Mexico, after holding a “glorified company picnic” in Houston on Tuesday.  Local New Mexico blog FBIHOP reports that the API/NAM/Chamber of Commerce/FreedomWorks/Big Oil astroturf rallies will take place today in Roswell and tomorrow in Farmington - “they will hold their meetings before going out and claiming these were grassroots efforts.”

Sun, 2007-04-15 17:29Emily Murgatroyd
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Do Nothing, Risk Everything

A recent report published in March by the Ethical Funds Company found that out of 48 Canadian oil and gas companies studied, only 2 were responding in any meaningful way to address the risks associated with global warming; Shell Canada and Suncor.

Using a wide variety of sustainability metrics, EFC scored each company to determine how well they are prepared to meet the increasing demand for environmentally and sustainably sound practices in the oil and gas sector as it becomes more and more clear that climate change is a reality and will have a significant effect on operations and investor relations.

Thu, 2007-04-12 09:21Emily Murgatroyd
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Do The Right Thing

Is the corporate dinosaur dying? Are we teetering on the brink of a new clean and green era of business and development? While I'm not holding my breath it's hard to ignore the steps that big business, and in particular big oil, has been taking of late to address the issue of global warming.

ConocoPhillips has just announced that it is doubling it's alternative fuel research spending to $150 million as well as funding a $22 million project to develop bio-fuels over the next 8 years with Iowa state university.

Fri, 2007-03-02 06:47Ross Gelbspan
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BP, Shell Put Real Wind Behind Their Rhetoric

Two of the world's leading oil producers have almost overnight joined some of the biggest players in wind power in the United States, accelerating a trend of large corporations investing in the rapidly growing alternative-energy field. Shell is one of the nation's top five generators of wind power, while BP's Alternative Energy group – launched 16 months ago – aims to develop projects that produce 550 megawatts of electricity this year, one-sixth of the projected US wind energy output in 2007.

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