I can’t help but have some sympathy for the folks at BP just now. They are not the evil empire and despite their poor safety history, say, the recent Texas City refinery explosion, they do in fact rack up a good many safe operating hours doing very hazardous work. They handle and process flammable materials on the gigantic scale. And, they respond to market pull for petroleum products.
I have been to meetings in their facilities in the UK and discussed new technology platforms that they wanted to bring on stream. I have listen to a few of their scientists describe their technology and marveled at the new things they have found for molecules to do. They are smart, competent, and well meaning people and we should not lose sight of this.
BP helps to provide the petroleum that we use to conduct out busy modern lives. We gladly consume every bit of their output. In fact, their contribution to the supply picture helps to keep hydrocarbon prices low. The same is true of all the producers.
The now famous spill in the gulf is clearly a bad thing and it happened to them for several reasons. But consumers have not responded to this in what you might call a philosophical manner. Nobody seems to be jolted into wakefulness by the depth that producers have to drill to find oil or the fact that these guys are resorting to drilling way out on the continental shelf. We just plug along expecting demanding that they keep producing at the same price.
If the critics of BP can drill better or operate distillation towers or cat crackers better than BP, then they should get off their duffs and do it. Put up or shut up. The chronic condition we are all subject to is the truism that we can do better. If you think you can be a better driller, then try it. It’s harder than it looks and it doesn’t look easy.