Settled, Sorta

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It’s not every day that a company you work for makes headlines, and its not every day that it leads headlines for the better part of a day – but yesterday my employer did, because we made headlines for much of 2010.  Yesterday, BP settled criminal charges filed against us for criminal charges brought for the 2010 Deepwater Horizon (aka Macando, aka Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill) accident that killed 11 workers and spilled millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf.  I am not going into the specifics of what the settlement was nor what the company’s response to it was — not for me to blog about if you ask me – but one spot (of the 3000 or so that came up in my search) that has details is here:

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-201_162-57550185/bp-to-pay-record-fine-in-gulf-oil-spill-2-to-face-manslaughter-charges/

What I will say is that this isn’t the end of litigation with the disaster.  This was only the criminal charges against BP the company, and doesn’t include potential civil charges brought by the US government, and what is expect to be at least a class action civil suit, if not multiple civil suits brought from other parties.  Additionally, as noted in the article, at least three current/former BP employees have been arrested for manslaughter.  I mentioned to my brother yesterday saying: “I wouldn’t call this the beginning, but its certainly not the end.”

The mood in the office changed through the day though.  When the news of the settlement broke, we were all basically coming into or on the way into the office – so we had the brief (“Settlement made, $4Billion”) and it was initially a relief.  We all thought it was over and for far less of the cost we expected.  Then we read the full article, and the  mood changed to more of a “concerned for the future as usual”.  Later, it became more sobering, when we realized that there were people who are going to have to stand trial for their part.  While I don’t know anyone who personally knows those going to trail, we all seemed to be concerned with our fellow co-workers in the Gulf, and realized what happens if we make decisions like they did.

At the end of the day, we (and “we” as in the actual human beings that genuinely feel this way, not just what the corporate communications say) are committed to making this right.  While folks in Alaska don’t have bearing over what is done with Gulf of Mexico production, we want the right things to happen all the time with what we do.  We are committed to making sure that oil comes from the ground, stays in the pipeline, and makes it to where it needs to go without a drop hitting the ground.  We want the wildlife to remain healthy even though we are dealing with toxic things around them.  Most of all, we are committed to making sure anyone who goes to work on oil production comes home in one piece.  None of that’s easy, but its because its not easy is part of the reason I wanted this job too … I wanted to be a part of a change that could help make the whole world a better place to live.

I’ll leave you with a joke I told when I was getting to leave Cessna went something like: “I am getting tired of working for a company that gets a bad reputation in the press and in politics.  I am tired of hearing things like ‘corporate jets’ this and ‘executives flying in their corporate jets’ that, its just way way too political for my tastes and its tough working for a company that can get a bad perception.  So I am going to work for BP.”

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