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BP's Multiplying Problems

Kiss the green image goodbye

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The Wall Street Journal reports that BP is frantically "seek[ing] to reassure shareholders." The Associated Press tallies up the bills (the first is $69 million) headed BP's way, courtesy of the federal government. The New York Times declares the oil spill isn't the company's only problem: its CEO is a piece of work, as well. Public outrage, too, continues to build. With all these problems, and a disaster still unfolding, could this energy giant actually be in serious trouble? Here's the latest on the challenges facing British Petroleum:

  • What About Charging BP?  Law professor David Uhlmann at The New York Times evaluates the possibility of bringing criminal charges against the company. Certainly it's beginning to seem like there was serious neglect and misconduct involved, he writes,"but only those directly involved in misconduct can be charged with crimes, and it is likely that executives of BP, Transocean and Halliburton played no such personal role in the disaster." The question is "whether BP or the other companies misled the government about the integrity of the well, or the amount of oil gushing from it. This could be the basis for charges of felony obstruction of justice against the companies and individuals involved" 
  • BP in Trouble: Will Britain Bail Out?  "BP is in real trouble," declares Andreas Whittam Smith at The Independent. They have "concentrated on North America," and they've just screwed that market up pretty perfectly. "I would argue that BP's success is a British interest," he writes. "We don't want to lose BP." He suggests the British government "give some help, just as it did with Rolls-Royce 40 years ago."
  • 'What About Nuking BP?'  Portfolio's Steve Rosenbush has read about the possibility of nuking the oil well. He's got a better idea. The Soviets may have perfected the art of sealing leaks with nuclear bombs, but "it's a good bet that the Soviets would have tied BP CEO Tony 'I Would Like My Life Back' Hayward to a missile, by now."
  • PR-Wise, They've Nuked Themselves  At Mother Jones, Josh Harkinson interviews "crisis communication expert" Chris Lehane, who is pessimistic about the PR results of this spill: " I think BP at this point is in some deep, dark, and unspinnable place," he says. "As a corporate entity, based on everything I’ve read and seen, they obviously still have a profitable business model; the problem is going to be their reputation." They need to invite the US government in to help and then change their name. As for their hope of being the "green" oil company? Farewell to that, he says.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.