BP & The Sons Of The Desert

BP is having an increasingly torrid time, both at the hands of the markets and public opinion in the US. In fact, if Obama gets any more shouty and angry he's likely to spontaneously combust. Of course, with his approval ratings at historic lows and being unable to issue a Presidential directive to an 18,000 feet sub sea oil reservoir his targets to lash out at are strictly limited to BP and Tony Hayward. He's making full use of his available targets though and this in turn is creating a media feeding frenzy which is whipping up the baying, pitchfork carrying mob. I don't remember the same animated reaction from us toward Occidental when 167 men got the chop on Piper Alpha.

Still, as the BP share price continues to be malleted the President and the ill informed mob should be careful what they wish for.

In late 1987 the British Government decided to sell it's remaining 31.5% stake in BP. The offer came unglued during the October Crash....... until the Kuwait Investment Office stepped in and bought 21.6% of BP. I strongly suspect that if the shares continue to slide then the KIO or someone similar might start hoovering them up., (Petrochina has been a name speculated on this morning). Instead of BP, which is now as much an American company as a British one, the American press might find themselves redirecting their outrage to the Sons of the Desert in flowing white robes owning a piece of their energy infrastructure. So much for energy security.

This is not of course, to make light of what is nothing less than a catastrophe for the people of the Gulf states but last I heard, BP is committed to making good the environmental damage and mitigating the economic impact on the area and at vast cost. Whilst Obama is going on and on about the US tax payer not being penalised he might just want to bring himself up to speed with Merrill Lynch who, shortly before being taken over by Bank of America, transferred $29bn of tax losses to their UK office. Does it matter? Not particularly, except to say we don't need any lectures about financial responsibility and morality. Moreover, Obama can raise his anti British rhetoric to as many decibels as he likes but our soldiers continue to fight and die side by side, just as they have done for generations and that bond will outlive any transient politician.

The best place incidentally, to keep abreast of events remains The Oil Drum; the comments by industry veterans are especially informative.