BP’s Theatre Of The Absurd

The Macondo oil gusher has finally been sealed but BP continues to play mind/word games with all concerned.The Picayune’s Bob Marshall published a surreal account of a conversation with a BP flack about the oil that is still fouling the waters and marshes in these parts:

For a while Tuesday, I felt like I was caught in the old Abbott and Costello routine “Who’s on first?”

Whether the oil that washed ashore this week is ‘new,’ meaning
never-before seen, or ‘old’ oil recycled by the ecosystem, it will
probably be showing up for at least a year.

Only this one would be titled “When is new oil old again?”

The guy from BP had called to sternly object to the note I ran in
Sept. 11′s newspaper under the headline “More oil comes ashore.” The
lead sentence read, “A new wave of black oil came ashore west of the
Mississippi River on Friday and Saturday, coating beaches and fouling
interior marshes, according to anglers’ reports.” The item went on to
report new oil in Bay Jimmie, Bay Wilkerson and Bay Baptiste.

I quoted charter skipper Ryan Lambert and Sidney Bourgeois, manager
of Joe’s Landing marina in Lafitte, as the sources of the reports. I
also checked their reports against the state’s official daily press
release on oil sightings, and found the same incidents.

However, that small story apparently created a big buzz with the
officials involved in BP’s response efforts. It all came down to the
word “new.”

I was driving at the time and pulled over to take the call from a BP rep. The conversation went something like this:
BP man: “There is no new oil coming ashore. There hasn’t been any for
weeks. There is none out there. Whoever told you that was wrong.”
Me: “Well, Ryan Lambert is out there every day. He saw no oil on those beaches for weeks, then on Friday he saw new oil.”

BP man: “That wasn’t new oil. It might have been old that reappeared, but it wasn’t new oil.”
Me: “It was new to Ryan, because he had never seen it before. He said it was new. He said it was new and black.”

BP man: “He was wrong because there is no new oil.”
Me: “So if I see oil for the first time in a place where there has been no oil, that isn’t new oil?”

BP man: “Almost certainly not. It’s old oil that has reappeared.”
Me: “Do the fish, birds, crabs, shrimp and benthic organisms realize this is old oil?”

BP man: “That’s not the point.”
But it was the point at which I had to continue toward my next
appointment. We agreed to semantic differences, but the conversation
only raised more questions in my inquiring mind — some of which I found
the answers to during the next few days.

Is there still new oil — “new” being oil that has yet to reach land —
still out in the Gulf of Mexico, even if the well has been closed for
two months?

Yes. According to recently released research, oil from the Deepwater
Horizon has settled to the bottom of the Gulf in several places. If this
eventually floats to land, it would be new oil.

3 thoughts on “BP’s Theatre Of The Absurd

  1. If it’s “old” oil that “reappeared,” then why didn’t they clean it up when it was “new?”
    But I suppose trying to reason with bullshit PR hacks is like…trying to reason with wingnuts…

  2. Isn’t all oil technically “old oil”? It’s not as if BP created it. They’ve simply “appeared” it on the surface of the planet.

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