Thursday, June 29, 2006

They Don’t Make Trees at BP

BP has pulled off one of the greatest marketing campaigns in history. Over the last decade, British Petroleum has transformed from an antiquated oil and gas company into an energy powerhouse through several successful acquisitions while “embracing the green movement years before it was cool in the executive suite” according to its CEO Lord Browne.

Recall all the Exxon boycotts during the past year? BP was thought to be the environmentally-friendly alternative to purchase our gasoline.

But it’s becoming apparent that “embracing the green movement” simply involved placing cheery ads about BP's environmental awareness across the nation’s newspapers, while replacing the old BP gas station signs with happier bright signs including green flowery buds implying environmental harmony.

Otherwise, BP’s gas stations and drilling practices appear to operate in the exact same fashion as before (to the detriment of the environment of course).

Greens were so in love with BP’s effective marketing campaign and sunny new gas station signs that “Vanity Fair” featured CEO Lord Browne in its environmental issue alongside fellow greens Al Gore and Julia Roberts.

But the real man behind the curtain is about to be exposed. BP has recently come under heavy pressure for illegal price manipulation and several damaging accidents at its plants.

The Reality

This week, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the Justice Department accused BP traders of secretly trying to corner part of the US propane market to “Enron-type proportions.” The CFTC says senior BP management provided its "advice and consent" for an operation that purposely drove up the energy costs of millions of Americans from 2003-2004. A former BP trader has admitted to participating in the alleged conspiracy, and several confiscated audiotapes have backed this claim.

On top of that, BP has been in hot water over a series of refinery accidents and explosions, and its safety record and practices are under investigation.

Not good timing on BP’s part. These illegal activities come at a time when increasing gasoline prices have become a burning political issue this election year. And these concerns are not likely to go away. Just last month, Steven Hawking warned that our days on Earth are numbered, and suggested moving to the moon, Mars and other neighboring stars in the next 10 to 20 years!

It’s amazing what an effective (and deceitful) marketing campaign can cover up.


At 4:44 AM, Blogger prenewe said...

What is the situation in the UK and the EU with regard to supervising these markets? Is there an equivalent to the NY Commodity Futures Trading Commission here in the UK or EU wide.? Who for instance supervises trading on the IPE in London?

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