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huffingtonpost: Bravo BP! Those Record Earnings Really Help. Alaska and the Nation Thank You!

By Raymond J. Learsy

Last quarter BP’s earnings stood at $7.3 billions. Another record. Earnings continue at stupendous levels yet much good that has done for the care and maintenance of their Alaska pipeline infrastructure. The level of mismanagement, purposeful or otherwise, has Rep. John Dingell (D. Michigan) calling for congressional hearings and expressing his outrage “It’s appalling that BP let this critical pipeline deteriorate to the point that a major shutdown was necessary”.

MSNBC reported that allegations about BP’s maintenance practices have been so persistent that a criminal investigation is under way into whether BP has for years deliberately shortchanged maintenance and falsified records to cover it up.

Further, that current BP employees claim they’ve been told to cut back chemical applications ordinarily put into the system to retard rust and corrosion, and to falsify records. That a federal official confirmed that many of these workers have also talked to the FBI.

In announcing the shutdown BP acknowledged that a key maintenance procedure to check for sludge otherwise known as “pigging” had not been performed for more than a decade.

In an interview this week with NBC News, a federal official Thomas J. Barrett, with the Department of Transportation’s Office Of Pipeline Safety, stated bluntly, “What disappointed me was their failure to maintain these lines to an accepted industry level of care”.

So much for oil company profits, as exemplified by BP, and the use to which they are put to husband the nation’s natural resources. (see “The Oil/Gas on Federal Lands Belong To Us!”3.24.06) One must begin to ask whether the nation is being taken by the oil industry and the deeply vested interests whose avarice is now veering far afield from the nation’s trust and well being.

Oh, one last thing if the above isn’t enough. BP, while grievously shortchanging pipeline maintenance (not to speak of the Texas City Refinery disaster the year before) found $8.5 billions, I repeat $8.5 billions, to buy back 725 million of its shares during the first half of 2006 alone. And to raise its dividend by 11%.

Nice work if you can get it. Thanks BP!

ARTICLE ENDS

Raymond J. Learsy is the author of the book Over a Barrel: Breaking the Middle East Oil Cartel. A graduate of the Wharton School, he made his life in the fast-paced, risk-filled world of commodities trading, beginning in 1959. In 1963, he started his own firm and over twenty years expanded from the U.S. into Canada, the United Kingdom, Luxembourg, Brazil, and Pakistan, trading in an array of bulk raw materials and commodities, shipping to customers worldwide. In the 1980s, he shifted gears as a private investor, from 1982 to 1988, served as a Reagan appointee to the National Endowment for the Arts. Currently, he serves on the board of the Whitney Museum of American Art and is a member of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Learsy’s richly-informed analysis of the international oil trade, OPEC, and its impact on the American and world economy has been featured in the National Review Online and the New York Times. He currently resides in Connecticut, and can be reached at [email protected].

 

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