in the spotlight

One Year Post-Spill, BP, Obama and Activists Agree "The Job Isn't Done"

Posted by Shirley Brady on April 20, 2011 02:00 PM

Having been lambasted by critics at its annual general meeting last week, BP is acknowledging today's one-year anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon rig explosion, a tragedy that killed 11 workers and spilled five million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, with a number of public communication efforts.

Its homepage today features a statement from CEO Bob Dudley superimposed over a somber image of BP workers with their heads bowed:

Today marks the first anniversary of the tragic accident on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico. Eleven men died in the accident and our thoughts are with their families, friends and colleagues particularly today. We also remember those who were injured and affected in other ways by the accident and the subsequent oil spill. We are committed to meet our obligations to those affected by this tragedy and we will continue our work to strengthen safety and risk management across BP. But most of all today, we remember 11 fellow workers and we deeply regret the loss of their lives.

Dudley also wrote an op-ed piece published today in The Wall Street Journal. Titled "The Lessons of Deepwater Horizon," it begins "A year ago today, the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded, killing 11 men and causing the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history. At BP we regret that the accident happened and the impact it has had on the environment of the Gulf Coast and people living there."

He goes on to outline the steps it has taken to address the Gulf disaster in the past year and concludes, "BP gets it. BP is changing. We are committed to working together with our industry colleagues and government regulators to ensure a safer, stronger energy future."

And on its YouTube page, the company released the 20-minute video below. Titled "A Year of Change," in in its own words, the video "covers events in BP since the tragedy in the Gulf of Mexico last year. It reviews the response to the oil spill, at sea, at the shoreline and in the community, and outlines the steps BP has been taking on safety and risk management across the company since the accident."

Last week, the company also released its 2010 Sustainability Report, which "looks at how our progress contributes towards our long-term prospects as a company and to society as a whole. This year, the report should therefore start with a clear acknowledgement — 2010 was a year that called BP's sustainability into question."

The following video accompanied the report, in which Dudley "explains the measures we are taking to strengthen safety, restore trust and build shareholder value responsibly for the long term."

Of course, nothing the company says will appease its harshest critics, such as the artists who poured oil over themselves today in a "strip-in" at the Tate Britain to protest BP's continuing sponsorship of the Tate.

As Reuters comments today, "The worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history spurred federal regulators to overhaul safety rules, but critics say gaps remain that could leave America's coast vulnerable to another disaster."

With environmental groups including the National Wildlife Federation also complaining that the government's restoration efforts haven't gone far enough, President Obama released an official statement today, defending his administration for making progress in cleaning up the Gulf of Mexico and improving regulation of offshore oil drilling, while admitting, “the job isn’t done.”

As for the impact on BP's brand reputation, Interbrand's Jennifer Bassett comments, "Let’s just say it is forever tarnished."

Update: In a surprise twist on the one-year anniversary, BP is suing Transocean, the operator of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, for about $40 billion according to papers the company filed today in New Orleans federal court.

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