BP Disaster Crime Environment

Revenge of the BP Barbies

August 8, 2013


In the weeks after Deepwater Horizon explosion in April 2010, but before the oil and tar balls began washing ashore, BP sent out into the coastal communities of the Gulf Coast an army of young, female marketing reps to handle the scared, angry mobs of locals worried about their businesses and homes.

We labeled them the “BP Barbies” because they couldn’t do much more than smile and hand out cards with the oil giant’s toll-free number. The message of the BP Barbies, which was reinforced with millions of dollars of advertising, was “We will make this right.”

Business owners, commercial fisherman and others were encouraged to file claims. They were told that BP had set aside the money necessary to make them whole.

Once the well was capped, the BP Barbies went away, but the BP public relations team didn’t.

This summer the oil giant mounted a campaign to stem the steady tide of claims. The company first set up a new toll-free number asking people to submit any information on fraudulent claims. Again millions were spent publishing the number in daily newspapers across the coast.

In a federal court filing Monday, BP requested in federal court a suspension of settlement payments while former FBI Director Louis Freeh heads an independent investigation of the court-supervised settlement program. The company claimed in court and in press releases that it had uncovered new allegations of fraud and conflicts of interest inside the settlement program.

That same day, BP was ordered by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to respond to allegations of natural gas market manipulation and threatened with fines of $28.8 million.

Once again BP is trying to deflect the public’s attention from its misdeeds. They want the media to focus on the business owners filing claims and their attorneys and not their violations.

And the list of violations and criminal investigations, just over the past eight years, is long:

2005: Texas City Refinery Explosion-15 deaths, 180 injured. BP pled guilty to felony violations
BP pays $60 million for California Air Pollution Violations

2006: BP pipeline corrodes and dumps largest spill ever on Alaska’s North Slope.

2007: BP pays $300 million in fines and penalties relating to illegal price fixing in the propane market.

2009: BP fined $87 million for safety breaches, pled guilty to felony violations

2010: Deepwater Horizon explosion-11 deaths, 16 injured. BP pays $4.5 billion in criminal fines and penalties

2013: European Commission launches in May an investigation into whether BP, Shell and others colluded to fix gas prices across Europe.

BP Barbies failed to calm the natives in the summer of 2010, and the latest ploy by the BP spin masters won’t work. The oil giant’s legacy of crime and environmental abuses is too extensive to ignore and cover-up.

BP committed to “make it right.” The people along the Gulf Coast get to decide when it’s right, not BP.

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  • joe August 8, 2013 at 9:17 pm

    Most everyone impacted and many who weren’t damaged are getting paid quite well by BP. If you don’t like the result, blame the politicians making the deals. BP is doing what their business model dictates for their shareholders…drill for oil and make money.

    Meanwhile environmentalist are unhappy but the politicians are licking their lips, tourism is at an all time high. The money is flowing. The flaw in the process is that the politicians are going to redirect the funds to other than environmental projects so as people vilify BP they fail to watch the politicians work behind the scenes for pet, unrelated projects.

    BP’s legal issues pale in comparison to all the failed green companies that produced nothing useful and cost the taxpayers billions.

  • Chasidy August 8, 2013 at 4:43 pm

    How could I have forgotten about the Barbies! Well covered Rick, as usual.

  • Mary August 8, 2013 at 1:05 pm

    That last statement is ever so true. BP is trying one of the tactics that is commonly used by the WH….distractions, hoping to take the public’s attention away from their misdeeds and focus them on something less significant. This allows them to continue with their wrong doing and no one is the wiser. Let the victims and those affected be the ones to decide when they are “made whole.” Who would know better than those directly affected?