As a long-standing member of the big box culture, I can say without hesitation that the problem in the Gulf of Mexico is what happens when corporate culture meets worst-case-scenario disaster. It’s easy to see what’s going on in BP. The corporation is trying to contain liability, the corporate goal since BP is responsible to the shareholders, not to US Citizens. Internally, the company is mobilizing to save the company, not save the Gulf. The Gulf of Mexico is secondary to everyone’s career. In a large company, there are winners and losers. Instead of focusing on solving the problem, internally everyone is gathering the appropriate CYA memos and choosing sides.
Within BP, people will get fired. Careers will be cut short. Personal fortunes will be lost. That’s the corporate disaster game. As the famous line goes in the movie National Treasure, “someone’s got to go to jail, son,” and everyone in BP is saying “well, I really don’t want to go to jail…” and they blame someone else. BP is not USP, the company does not have to look out for the best interests of the United States. Texas, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, and Louisiana are places on the map, far removed from corporate HQ. We are a third-world country to BP HQ, and rightly so. We buy gas and work on the oil rigs. We don’t run the company and we don’t decide on corporate compensation each January.
When BP says it will take until August, that means the company will do its best to solve the problem. But it’s only a problem, not a life-or-death struggle for corporate survival. And therein lies the fundamental problem with the Obama Administration. The spineless advisers to POTUS are unwilling to play the big card.
I, of course, have a simple solution. If BP cannot get the well capped by July 1, BP is banned from selling oil in the US or to companies doing business with the US for a period of no less than 10 years. Haliburton is banned from working on any projects in the US or for the US government for the same period of time. TransOcean is banned from working on any oil rigs that supply the US for the same period. All US assets for the 3 companies will be seized and sold to pay for the government cleanup. Trading would be suspended on June 1 so the stockholders would be locked in to the solution as well.
The US immediately pulls troops home from the middle east and cuts a deal with members of OPEC for oil outside of the normal channels. The US parks a small armada in the Persian gulf to assure oil makes it to the US when BP is out of the picture. The US announces a comprehensive energy independence policy based on a reduction in the use of oil – and energy in general. Saving energy is the new patriotism.
The goal of this is not to kill BP, but to get BP focused. Companies need simple directives and timelines. I believe BP can stop the flow if their corporate livelyhood depends on it. Currently, it’s just a problem waiting on a solution. We need to link corporate survival with the survival and cleanup of the gulf. Only then will the problem have a quick resolution.