Wednesday, 16 March 2011

BP in the Gulf of Mexico - Failure of Leadership and Values - Renewing the Urgency For TBLI

By Stephen Cassidy

The earth is bleeding from it's veins, the oil its bleeding is killing all life in its path.
How much longer before the oceans are irreversibly damaged?
Five weeks after the Deepwater Horizon offshore drilling rig exploded and sank, within estimations of between five to a hundred thousand barrels per day (1 barrel is 42 gallons) leaked out. This was not an oil spill as BP and the media have mentioned, but an oil leak. Ongoing, like an open tap on the bottom of the sea gushing out thick black crude oil that sticks to the sea bed, which cannot be seen from above.
At great depths chemicals are still being used to disperse the oil. Management spent a month trying to measure the amount of oil leaking out of the pipeline. Talks of plugging the leaking pipe with golf balls, cement and even using human hair to mop up the oil are reports we repeatedly hear.
More than 80% of all environmental damage is related to utilizing, finding and making energy, with offshore drilling high on the list. You would think that by now, someone making decisions would see that renewable energy sources and sustainable investments would have been a lot less risky.
Big oil companies are going down to greater depths, and drilling from bigger rigs than ever before.
We seem to be concerned when its on our doorstep, close to home. For the people living and working on and around the Gulf of Mexico this is a nightmare right on their doorstep that will not go away for many many years.
With 50% of the US fish supplies coming from the Gulf of Mexico and 9000 plus square kilometers of oil polluted sea, the future is looking bleak for the fishing industry. It is devastating for tourism, corral reefs and the peoples lives in the whole region. Not to mention the impact it will have on the world and the economy.
The costs for cleaning up the oil pollution will make the gains look irrelevant. Where did BP management and the US government go wrong?
Failure of leadership and values
There are 20 more oil rigs drilling for oil in the Gulf of Mexico. How many of these oil rigs will have incidents in the coming years. If the oil companies do not work according to strict safety regulations with high priority for ecological management, then they should simply not be drilling at these depths or under such circumstances in such a sensitive ecosystem. The Deepwater Horizon disaster is a result of what happens when responsibility for the environment is not high on the priority list.
Oil is one of the most important resources on our planet, and at the moment the world needs oil.
I heard during the week that we are taking twice as much oil as we actually need. If you give out twice as much money as you own, it would not be very long before you deplete your assets.
Oil companies create their own standards, as do most businesses. But when the business affects people or the environment, the companies should be closely monitored so that laws and regulations are followed.
Where does responsibility lie when things go drastically wrong? Regulations need to be changed to protect the people and their livelihood as well as the environment. We should not have to be hearing the BP chairman say ''we where not prepared for something like this''
This is not the first time such a disaster has occurred in the Gulf of Mexico. Forty years ago an oil spill devastated the shores of Santa Barbara. If the US government are contemplating approval for more drill sites, where is the leadership failing.
The US government agency gave BP a one page approval to drill from the Deepwater Horizon. After the 20 April disaster Arnold Schwarzenegger changed his mind about the safety of oil platforms, and president Barack Obama was forced to appoint an independent commission to investigate BP's responsibility, with a 30 day stop on all permits for drilling in the Gulf.
A whole different style of leadership is now necessary to be able to drill for oil in a responsible manner. Investors need to take environmental, social and governance issues into consideration in investment decision making practices.
Renewing the urgency for TBLI
Which lessons can be learned from the 20th April catastrophe. Making a change in vision for BP after such a devastating ecological catastrophe should be a lot easier, now that all eyes are on BP. It might be the right time for a constructive joint operation between the oil industry, governments, shareholders and environmental organizations. There is a real need for upfront sustainable investments with long term social and environmental benefits for everyone.
Shareholders views are probably the biggest obstacle. Shareholders are mainly interested in the bottom line on their P & L. How do you measure the profits of sustainable investments? Getting shareholders to act in a responsible manner and holding them accountable for actions taken by the companies they invest in, will be a challenge.
TBLI GROUP (Triple Bottom Line Investment) is a knowledge broker that specializes in Environmental and Social Governance (ESG) using its global network to link and educate investors for long term environmental gains. TBLI aims to raise awareness in business leaders without loosing focus of finance.
Robert Rubinstein founder and CEO of TBLI said he has always tried to integrate the basic concept of leaving things in a better condition than when he started. Could this be a statement you would like to hear from big oil companies.
TBLI (Triple Bottom Line Investment) is a knowledge broker that specializes in Environmental and Social Governance (ESG) using its global network to link and educate investors for long term environmental gains. TBLI aims to raise awareness in business leaders without loosing focus of finance.