Friday, 11 June 2010

BP should not be the scapegoat for the world's oil addiction

Over the last few weeks, I have been horrified by what has happened in the Gulf of Mexico. The explosion on the Deepwater rig and the massive leaking of oil is a tragedy of epic proportions. Those responsible must pay for the clean up, no question.

What disturbs me though is that one company, BP-Amoco, is being made a scapegoat for the whole industry. It seems to have been singled out by the US administration (with a good dash of petty nationalism) as a means of deflecting attention from the wider issues of oil dependency and the subsequent need to search for unconventional reserves, of which deep water oil is an example.

BP is responsible, but so might other companies be, like Transocean and Halliburton that were involved in maintaining or operating the platform. But the net goes much wider, to the franchise petrol stations and the investors around the world. In fact, the blame goes far beyond even that. It extends to each and every one of us. Anyone who has ever bought a product containing oil is culpable, and the citizens of the US more than most (thanks to their exceptional thirst for gasoline).

Yes, we must ensure that BP, Halliburton and the rest pay the price – but simply putting all the blame on one or two companies as though they were a ‘rotten apple’ in a good barrel is nothing short of a diversionary tactic. It could have been any oil company – they are all the same. The culprit is oil, and our society’s need for it. The sooner we realise that and end this dysfunctional relationship the better.

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