Why Obama's wrong to lay into BP

I believe the moment has come to call an all-American "time out" regarding the treatment of BP by president Barack Obama and his officials. Of course what has occurred in the Gulf of Mexico is a human and environmental disaster – but may I suggest Mr Obama considers a more measured approach?

As a Scot with 37 years in the oil business (none with BP), the Occidental-owned Piper Alpha disaster, resulting in 167 deaths and many life-changing physical and psychological injuries, remains with me as a reminder of the hazardous nature of our industry. At the time of the event, the then prime minister Mrs Thatcher was not moved to talk about "keeping her boot on Occidental's throat", nor did she or her ministers attempt to portray Armand Hammer, the Occidental CEO, as a mass murderer. The Piper Alpha inquiry found Occidental guilty of inadequate maintenance and safety procedures, yet no criminal charges were ever brought.

And we have not witnessed the Indian government issuing threats of keeping a boot on Dow Chemicals' throat until the site of the Bhopal chemical disaster has been cleaned and decontaminated.

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I fear the world will again determine that the US values American companies, American lives and the American environment by a totally different yardstick to that used for all other nationalities.

I appreciate there are domestic political problems pressing on President Obama, but was he not meant to be different?


The Hague

The Netherlands

Don't you find it just a little bit ironic that the president of a country which is deemed to be the largest polluter on the planet has the gall to vilify BP over the Gulf oil spill, which it is trying desperately to fix. Clearly, this was an accident not an act of sabotage, not so the continued snubbing of noses to the rest of the world, no country of which has the might to demand compensation from the US for its misbehaviour. Might be a message in there somewhere, Mr Obama.


Young Street

Strathaven, Lanarkshire

Your editorial (11 June) on the Gulf of Mexico oil spillage misses the point. BP and all other oil companies would not be drilling in deep water locations if we did not demand continuing huge volumes of oil to support our car driving, our economy and our comfortable lifestyles. We cannot demand oil and at the same time wash our hands of the environmental implications. Oil is increasingly only to be found in difficult, hazardous locations. Disasters will happen more often, even with better management and technology.

So let's own up. We're all responsible for the Gulf slick. But are we going to stop driving our cars as a result?


Back Wynd

Falkland, Fife

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