I have often considered the worst of all sins to be lying. To lie to your family, your colleagues, the people around you; ensures that, once found out in a lie, no matter how large or small, trust is never regained. The guy who sold me my last car also maintained it, and if you have to trust anyone in this life, you trust, implicitly and completely, the guy who checks your brakes, suspension and tyres; because you place your family’s life completely in his ability to do his job to the best of his ability. Many of those whose names appear in public life lie, and politicians are consummate liars as a by-product of their chosen profession. But, to my own mind, the one institution which stands solidly even lower than the many politicians it routinely applauds is the BBC, and its flagship Today programme.
Consider the man (I use the term ‘man’ in the loosest possible sense) who was given the title of ‘Guest Editor’ on the Today Programme. This was ‘Lord’ John Browne, the ‘man who lead from the front’ in BP, formerly named British Petroleum; whose history within that former Oil Giant can be paraphrased in four cycles: Alaska; Texas City, Deepwater Macondo; and finally Chevalier.
- Alaska. Browne’s chief tactic, in all the areas of BP’s management strategy, was to cut costs, delay expensive maintenance changes and upgrades to all areas of the BP Alaskan operation; and transfer the savings into dividends for the shareholders. Browne’s operational strategy was formed around the phrase, ‘BP’s Wealth is more important than your Health’; and thus was every saving made into a tick box labelled ‘saving success’. Savings such as not replacing or renovating gas and fire detectors on the compressor turbines which power BP’s Alaskan plants, because the ‘down-time’ costs were prohibitive, and not easily explained to cost-conscious management. Savings achieved through the delay and deferment of running a ‘pipe-line pig’ through the huge delivery oil pipelines running across the pristine Alaskan grasslands merited a special bonus to the guys who didn’t do their jobs, so a leak which wasn’t spotted for three days unleashed countless gallons of heavy crude to forever smear the once green tundra which was supposed to be protected by Big Oil and BP. The result? Loads’a money for BP, but a massive clean-up and repair bill after the damage was done.
- Texas City. Browne’s cost-cutting achieved big cash figures for the Texas City complex, which could be smilingly reported at BP’s London headquarters, but the actual cost of the huge blast at the Texas City refinery, in human terms, was fifteen dead. Browne’s BP administrators had demanded a 25% cost saving across all maintenance areas at Texas City, so the $150,000.00 needed to replace an ageing 52 metre-tall ‘blowdown drum’ was withheld, and the Plant management was told to fix it, presumably with duct tape and string. A daytime shift employee was given incorrect information by an over-tired night-shift guy, and commenced pumping ever more distillate into the drum. A valve ruptured, and seven thousand gallons of vapourised fuel dispersed in a huge cloud of explosive mist. An idling truck’s engine sparked a huge explosion, and fifteen died, mainly because they were literally too close to the tower; there were 180 injured staff accounted for.
- Deepwater Macondo; BP’s licence for deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico was said to be the mother lode; there was ‘oil for a thousand years’; and all that had to be done before the pipelines filled with crude was, well, difficult; but not unachievable. Deepwater Horizon drilling rig was contracted to begin the search, location and commissioning of what should have been a normal deep search drill, but the inexorable search for ‘savings’, for getting extra value for every dollar, as pushed by ‘Lord’ John Browne, now of course favourite with all the financial money men in Wall Street and the London Stock Market; meant that short-cuts and easy fixes were contemplated in an area which is so unforgiving that back-ups are routinely provided for back-ups. BP leapt at the chance to save even more cash, as the costs of providing a no oil-spill plan were massive, and, after all, it was just more paperwork! The tests on the cement used to surround the actual drillhole were suspect, but the faulty cement was placed anyway, mainly because the costs of re-drilling would cause the management which succeeded John Browne to faint. So the drilling went ahead, the workers were being pushed by management to cut costs all the time. A huge high-pressure gas bubble blew up the drill hole, raced past the huge 220 tonne preventer, blitzed through the drilling line and hit the Deepwater Explorer like a bomb. The explosion killed eleven men, tore the heart out of the massive rig, which sank four days later. the oil spill, largest ever, went on for eighty seven days. Such was the result of cost, maintenance and supervisory savings implemented by John Browne; and executed by the operations side of BP.
- Chevalier. John Browne won an injunction in the High Court to keep secret allegations, later proven and acknowledged to be facts; that he was a homosexual, that he had used BP assets and personnel to keep his rent-boy in cash and indeed generated a company so that Chevalier, the rent-boy in question, could practice being in ‘business’. He gained the Injunction, but it was later proved that he lied about the circumstances of his first meetings with Chevalier, and; because he lied, the Injunction failed, and all the perverted stories came out anyway. He resigned from BP, forfeiting the £ millions due him when he retired.
He spent the greater part of his ‘guest editor’ position calling for greater acceptance of homosexuals in business, and also praising one outfit for their ‘trans-friendly’ attitude. One is left to figure out what or who the ‘trans’ people are, or whatever they think they are.