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Lunch » Tags » Books » Reviews » Drowning in Oil: BP & the Reckless Pursuit of Profit » User review

Excellent background on the "Deepwater Horizon" blowout and a lot of the how and why

  • Dec 17, 2010
  • by
When the British Petroleum (BP) drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico exploded and spewed millions of gallons of oil into the ocean, I was with the majority of Americans in being angry with BP. The arrogance of the CEO and the recounting of the poor safety record of the company was retold many times and the sight of the oil washing up on the beaches and the animals coated with it were sickening. I was happy when the Obama administration reached an agreement with BP whereby the company would put $20 billion into a fund to compensate the victims at all levels. Finally, I was disgusted when a member of the U. S. House (Joe Barton) felt the need to publicly apologize to BP for what he described as a $20 billion shakedown.
All those emotions were revisited when I read this book and another was added, depression at the realization of how callous BP is in their cost cutting measures with little regard for safety. Steffy does a superb job in revisiting the history of BP and how for decades it was effectively controlled and owned by the British government. I was puzzled by the British reaction to the disaster and how BP was defended in the British press, but after reading the history of the company I understood it. Still hated it, but at least I understood why BP is so dear to the British public heart.
I also learned why it was absurd for congressman Barton to apologize for the Obama administration's treatment of BP. The company was happy to set aside $20 billion into a fund administered by the federal government, this program deflected a lot of criticism from BP to the government and helped insulate the company against what could have been much higher costs.
Finally, it was fascinating to learn how BP is regarded by the other major oil companies, in a word "despised." Their attitude is one of thinly disguised contempt for BP's ruthless cutting of costs, poor safety record, record fines for noncompliance and the universal company policy of blaming the victims. It is a commonly held belief among the other oil companies that BP's failures has created problems for the rest of the industry as well, which has a much better safety record.
While most of the events reported in this book have been published or reported before, this collection has been superbly done. Facts presented as part of a short story don't hit as hard or as deep as when they are all collected together and reinforce each other. This is an excellent background description of why this disaster was so likely to happen.

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More Drowning in Oil: BP & the Reck... reviews
review by . January 21, 2011
There are few people in the United States who did not watch in amazement as oil spewed from the Macondo well into the Gulf of Mexico. However, prior to Macondo blowout BP had other, less covered disasters - the explosion of the refinery in Texas City and a leak in the Alaskan pipeline. "Drowning in Oil" attempts to roll each of these events as a result of a deeper rooted issue within BP.      Loren Steffy paints a tale of a corporate culture that gives lip-service to safety while …
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Charles Ashbacher ()
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Charlie Ashbacher is a compulsive reader and writer about many subjects. His prime areas of expertise are in mathematics and computers where he has taught every course in the mathematics and computer … more
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The definitive account of how BP's win-at-all-costs culture led to this era's greatest industrial catastrophe

"A carefully and powerfully written story."
Financial Times

"When an author uses a loaded word like 'reckless' in a book's title, the burden of proof is high. . . . Steffy meets the burden by demonstrating that corporate behemoth BP (formerly British Petroleum) could have prevented the 11 deaths on April 20, 2010, aboard the Deepwater Horizon. . . . The deaths and the gigantic oil spill following the sinking of Deepwater Horizon will surely become a landmark of corporate ineptness and greed for the remainder of human history, thanks in part to Steffy's remarkable account."
San Antonio Express-News

"Steffy has produced a fascinating, gripping, revealing account. . . . The book details events aboard the Deepwater Horizon in April of 2010 to start, but it digs deeper into what is revealed as a culture of cost-cutting boiling over within BP. Steffy documents years of incidents and poor management decisions, detailing the rise of key characters like John Browne and Tony Hayward alongside riveting outlines of horrifying events in Texas City and at other BP locations. . . . The book reads like fiction at times, with the author's heavily-detailed accounts of explosions and conversations creating vivid, nearly fantastical images. The tragic history of BP is all-too-real, though, as the lost lives and environmental damage certainly attest to.. . . Steffy is a thorough, ...

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ISBN-10: 0071760814
ISBN-13: 978-0071760812
Author: Loren C. Steffy
Genre: Business & Investing, Professional & Technical
Publisher: McGraw-Hill
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