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Video: As BP’s recklessness ruins the Gulf Coast, CEO Tony ‘Soprano’ Hayward calls oil disaster’s impact “very, very modest”

By Joe Romm  

"Video: As BP’s recklessness ruins the Gulf Coast, CEO Tony ‘Soprano’ Hayward calls oil disaster’s impact “very, very modest”"

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Expert says spill rate definitely much more than 70,000 barrels/day; BP and Goldman Sachs sued for oil fraud!

I think the environmental impact of this disaster is likely to have been very, very modest,” Tony ['Soprano'] Hayward said.

Sure ThinkProgress has the story of the Alabama teacher who used a hypothetical assassination of Obama in a geometry lesson on ‘angles’ and ‘parallel lines.’ And yes, the front page of HuffPost is all over the conservative evangelical Congressman who filmed an ‘abstinence’ video with his mistress.

But their outrageous behavior has nothing on BP CEO Tony Hayward, who I am officially giving the nickname ‘Soprano’ to because of his callous disregard for human lives and his Goldman-Sachs-esque quest for profits, profits, profits.  Indeed, the comparison to Goldman Sachs may be unfair to Goldman, as this stunning video makes clear:


The story says this video was made “at BP’s crisis control centre, Houston, Texas,” which suggests they think having Hayward keeping singing like this somehow helps them control the crisis.

UPDATE:  Hmm, Forbes reports, BP And Goldman Sachs Sued For Oil Fraud:

Dozens of small oil and gas producers across Oklahoma and the Midwest are suing Goldman Sachs, BP and ConocoPhillips, claiming the defendants conspired to defraud them out of proceeds for crude oil they delivered just before the collapse of Oklahoma-based pipeline giant Semgroup in the summer of 2008….

“It’s only fitting that here we have the two great vampire squids working in concert” to defraud the little guy, says the attorney

Hayward is apparently completely unaware of the growing realization by everybody else that his monomaniacal quest for cost-cutting, corner-cutting, and profits was the proximate cause of this disaster, which, it must be pointed out, killed 11 people (see Should you believe anything BP says?)

Hayward is also apparently unaware that the underlying causes of the disaster were BP’s recklessness, arrogance, and hubris.  See also CEO Hayward says to fellow executives: “What the hell did we do to deserve this?”

Hayward’s comments tend toward the embarrassingly ironic:

“It is impossible to say and we will mount, as part of the aftermath, a very detailed environmental assessment … but everything we can see at the moment suggests that the overall environmental impact of this will be very, very modest.”

Yes, well, BP has for weeks cleverly blocked scientists from gauging the full extent of the undersea gusher (see “Based on video, BP undersea volcano spewing 3 million gallons a day “” two Exxon Valdezes a week“).

And BP has used a staggering amount of toxic dispersants to shift the environmental impact from the visible coastlines to the unseen sea column and sea bed (see “Out of Sight: BP’s dispersants are toxic “” but not as toxic as dispersed oil” and “BP chooses more toxic, less effective dispersants“).

UPDATE:  Propublica reports, “The two types of dispersants BP is spraying in the Gulf are banned for use on oil spills in the U.K.”

But it is shocking that Hayward would make a statement that reveals such a shocking unawareness of — or interest in — the devastation that is already occurring:

  • Loop current is now drawing the BP oil disaster to Florida Keys–Toxicologist: “We could be getting to the point that puts coral over the edge”; Masters: “a major ecological disaster … cannot be ruled out.”  NOAA “has shut down fishing in 19 percent of the Gulf over which the federal government has jurisdiction,” 45,728 square miles.

Hmm.  Maybe my new comparison isn’t a fair one either:  Even Tony Soprano knew what was going on and when to keep his mouth shut.

UPDATE: Under pressure from Congress, BP has released new undersea videos of the gushers.  NBC evening news just reported that Steve Wereley, the  associate professor at Purdue University, who had told NPR the actual leak rate of the BP oil disaster is about 70,000 barrels a day (3 million gallons a day), says these new videos make him confident the rate is considerably higher.

All four videos released today are here.

‹ Lubchenco Dismisses Loop Current Threat: ‘Very Little Tarballs!’

Revitalizing our economy and the environment ›

31 Responses to Video: As BP’s recklessness ruins the Gulf Coast, CEO Tony ‘Soprano’ Hayward calls oil disaster’s impact “very, very modest”

  1. mike roddy says:

    Hayward is a typical example of the kind of people we are dealing with in the oil industry. He’s not just a brute, but a dumb one, too.

    You would think that people like him would not be that hard to defeat. The main question may be whether there is enough time left to do so.

  2. Ryan T says:

    I’ve been cautious about assumptions that this particular spill would be a complete catastrophe, after reading that the location and type of oil involved might be mitigating factors. But I also think it’s too early to assume the impacts won’t be disastrous. Still, news outlets like NPR and BBC have done interviews with former WAPO reporter Ken Ringle, suggesting this thing might not be the huge disaster people assume. He seems to base this on past spills and little observed damage (at least on the coast):
    http://www.npr.org/blogs/talk/2010/05/may_13th_show.html
    (see link there).

    Apparently he at least started commenting on this before the higher scientific estimates, and I would think the quantity and persistence of the leak could count for something, along with it approaching the loop current. As Ringle notes, oil is natural, but what isn’t so much is when humans induce a rapid and/or sustained release that overwhelms natural systems. The question is whether this is one of those cases. Guess time will tell.

  3. daniel smith says:

    For a very good, clear-eyed discussion of this, of BP as but one example of predictable corporate-state-capitalist behavior, see Chris Hedges collumn at Truthdig yesterday, titled “BP and the ‘Little Eichmanns.’” http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/bp_and_the_little_eichmanns_20100517/

  4. Ronald says:

    So, has Britian apologized yet? Are their any US company owned tankers near Britian that can be run aground?

    Nah, I don’t really think we should do that. I don’t.

  5. Doug Bostrom says:

    Ken Ringle has a print version of the message he’s been promulgating here:

    http://www.niemanwatchdog.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=Background.view&backgroundid=454

    Cherrypicking:

    Here are the politically incorrect truths that arm-waving anchormen and environmental activists today don’t want to face or may not be aware of:

    1. Crude oil is a natural substance…

    …What will happen when it hits the Gulf Coast wetlands? Most fish and birds will avoid the area. Obviously larval oysters, crabs and other estuarine creatures will suffer. But oil has been drilled from, pumped across and spilled on Gulf Coast wetlands for more than half a century.

    Rings the wrong bells for me, especially the rhetorical “anchormen and activists” ploy.

  6. Doug Bostrom says:

    Also heard a BBC reporter remarking today that he was blocked from filming spilled oil on the Delta, by the Coast Guard. I did not know the Coast Guard works for BP’s public relations agency but we learn something new every day.

  7. As always, human greed and arrogance will destroy the natural order, which is so valuable for all of stakeholders, not only for the for-profit company.

    As a result, we will experience a lot of damage,and specially, the socially disadvantaged will experience more damage, from which our world can not be perfectly recovered.

    As all problems and conflicts can be solved through going back to the root cause, we must go back to the fundamental basics.

  8. Mark says:

    My first impression on looking at the new video is that it looks like the rate of oil release is lower than in the original video.

    Is this video taken from the same angle and the same distance from the pipe as the original video? Or is it much further away from the ruptured pipe than the original video?

    I’d love to have some more detail from Steve Wereley.

    In any case, it is beyond belief that Hayward could claim that environmental damage will be very, very modest.

  9. Doug Bostrom says:

    Mark:

    Is this video taken from the same angle and the same distance from the pipe as the original video? Or is it much further away from the ruptured pipe than the original video?

    Wouldn’t it be great if we did not have to rely for data on the same people who made the spill?

    Anyway, although BP today is touting that they’ve managed to capture a significant fraction of the oil and we should be happy, remember that the rate of the leak is irrelevant and not interesting, according to BP yesterday, so we should not listen to them. Or something like that.

  10. Mark S says:

    So we’re at 28 days now since the Deepwater Horizon sunk? That would be 28 * 70k = 1,960,000 barrels or 82,320,000 gallons. That means it is now the fifth largest spill in history and within 2 days of being the third largest.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Largest_oil_spills#Largest_oil_spills

  11. Doug Bostrom says:

    Regarding ex-WaPo reporter Ken Ringle, today in his interview w/ the BBC he claimed that the Bay of Campeche spill caused essentially no damage, the oil dissipating without a trace.

    Today in the NY Times:

    PADRE ISLAND NATIONAL SEASHORE, Tex. — It is nesting season here, and just offshore, Kemp’s ridley sea turtle No. 15 circles in the water before dragging herself onto the sand to lay another clutch of eggs.

    The sea turtle, affectionately nicknamed Thelma by a National Park Service employee, has already beaten some terrible odds. Still in the egg, she was airlifted here from Mexico in the wake of the 1979 blowout of the Ixtoc 1 rig, which spilled millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico and covered the turtles’ primary nesting place.

    Now Thelma and others of her species are being monitored closely by worried scientists as another major oil disaster threatens their habitat. Federal officials said Tuesday that since April 30, 10 days after the accident on the Deepwater Horizon, they have recorded 156 sea turtle deaths; most of the turtles were Kemp’s ridleys. And though they cannot say for sure that the oil was responsible, the number is far higher than usual for this time of year, the officials said.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/19/science/earth/19turtle.html?hp=&pagewanted=print

    I wonder how Ringle missed that? After all, he covered the story.

    As Ringle says in his recent essay on the BP spill:

    None of this makes easy reading for reporters and editors today because it complicates the story of the BP oil spill.

    Yes, it does.

    Credibility, such a precious resource and so easy to waste it carrying oil for somebody else.

  12. Andy says:

    It’s already been a disaster. Most of the dead plankton/fish/wildlife will never be seen. If I take a thousand pennies and throw them out over a broad field of deep grass how many do you think you could find? If you were able to find a handful would that mean that the others didn’t exist? How many millions of dead things can be hidden in an area of several thousand square miles that is one mile deep of which we are allowed only to see the very surface layer? Not all dead things float; far from it. And how will one measure the chronic toxicity effects on marine life reproduction as this is hardly measured now? The idea that we have to see someone shoveling heaps of dead pelicans into the beds of a pick up truck before we can call this a disaster is absurd.

    Don’t look towards the evening news for any answers here. The scientists will do the best they can, but as with the Exxon Valdez spill, the results won’t come out until years after the media have lost interest.

    Listen to what the many marine scientists are saying. They aren’t selling anything and they generally state things conservatively. Paul Montagna, for example. He’s been through many, many oil spills and has conducted numerous long term studies of their affects on the most uncharismatic yet vital forms of life – marine worms. If he says this one is already a disaster, then so be it. I’m going to trust his judgement way before that of the BP CEO.

  13. Rabid Doomsayer says:

    BP are going to regret just how much they have tried to downplay this disaster. They are going to look stupid and greedy. Spin only goes so far.

  14. I also think it’s too early to assume the impacts won’t be disastrous. Still, news outlets like NPR and BBC have done interviews with former WAPO reporter Ken Ringle, suggesting this thing might not be the huge disaster people assume.

  15. Stephen Watson says:

    Annoyingly the video of Tony Hayward is visually fine but has no sound – any thoughts or alternative sites?

  16. prokaryote says:

    You can pitch the volume metre to receive sound.

  17. prokaryote says:

    Why BP Won’t Measure the Oil Spill

    Scientists have come down hard on BP for refusing to take advantage of methods available to measure the oil. The New York Times reported Thursday that BP was planning to fly scientists from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute to Louisiana to conduct volume measurements. The oceanographers were poised to use underwater ultrasound equipment to measure the flow of oil and gas from the ocean floor when BP canceled the trip.
    http://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2010/05/why-bp-wont-measure-the-oil-spill/56848/

  18. Whatshisname says:

    Perhaps British Petroleum could clear up any misunderstanding by allowing us to have a look at our own Gulf of Mexico instead of having people arrested for simply taking pictures from the shores of a nation over which they’ve had no say in 200-plus years.

    While BP’s attempt to hide its dirty secrets is superseded by our right to know, do keep in mind that other (already-paranoid) polluters on the Gulf Coast will also have their antennae up and stingers out in anticipation the spill might attract incidental attention. They all make it their business to know who is coming and going. They are well-coordinated, watch each other’s back, and often control local and county governments and law enforcement.

    Everyone else – activists, scientists, professional and citizen journalists and other interests – should likewise watch each other’s back and practice the basic rules that parents teach their kids. Now where did I put those rules? I may need to get my kid to write them down for me before heading to the coast. Maybe I’ll see you there…….

  19. prokaryote says:

    Influx of BP news bubbling up to the surface.

    U.S. probes another BP rig, seeks MMS shakeup
    http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE64H69C20100518?type=politicsNews

  20. Turboblocke says:

    Ronald at 4: so has the USA apologised to India for Union Carbide/Bhopal? Worst industrial accident in history, killing thousands of people. Glass houses and stones comes to mind here.

  21. Stephen Watson says:

    @16 – “You can pitch the volume metre to receive sound.”

    The volume is set to max and my computer’s sound is fine, but the Sky item has no audio. :-(

    I’m in the UK.

  22. Mark says:

    NPR reports that “the new video shows other impressive streams of oil and gas coming out from around the blowout preventer 600 feet away.”

    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=126911251&ft=1&f=1007

  23. Mark says:

    In testimony today, Steve Wereley stated that the new video showed a leak from another location.
    The diameter of the hole in this case was only 1.2 inches.
    He estimated the flow through this small outlet to be 35,000 barrels a day.

  24. Mark says:

    Correction – He estimated the flow through this small outlet to be 25,000 barrels a day.

  25. sailrick says:

    25,000 barrels, or 1,000,000 gallons a day from a 1.2 inch diameter hole. Then how much could be coming out of the 20 inch hole?

  26. Tommy Two-Times says:

    Fugetaboutit…. it’s nothin’ ehh, it’s nothin.

  27. Chris Winter says:

    Stephen Watson wrote: “The volume is set to max and my computer’s sound is fine, but the Sky item has no audio.”

    What worked for me is to click on the vertical line in the video’s own volume control. The round “knob” will appear. You can then slide it to the top, or to whatever volume level suits you.

  28. prokaryote says:

    “The volume is set to max and my computer’s sound is fine, but the Sky item has no audio. ”

    If you lower the volume you get sound.

  29. This has caused indeed a major outrage in the oil industry and corrupted the marine life of america.

  30. Seane says:

    I work for BP and can personally attest to the fact that BOP is on nothing more than a profit quest. I don’t work in the Exploration and Production side of things, however, even in my area cost-cutting is absurd. BP is hammering partners for lower and lower pricing, displacing a knowledgeable and dedicated workforce, and abandoning all of the work directly aimed at safety and quality. Imagine people routinely working 65 – 70 hour weeks and then being reprimanded for having he nerve to log all the time they work. I cannot even begin to tell you how low the morale is within my area of BP. I was once proud to work for BP and am now frankly ashamed of the company and embarrassed to go to work each day.