April 30th, 2010
06:21 PM ET

In ironic twist, BP finalist for pollution prevention award

Call it a tragic irony.

BP, now under federal scrutiny because of its role in the deadly Gulf of Mexico explosion and oil spill, is one of three finalists for a federal award honoring offshore oil companies for "outstanding safety and pollution prevention."

The winner of the award - chosen before the April 20 oil rig incident - was to be announced this coming Monday at a luncheon in Houston. But the U.S. Department of Interior this week postponed the awards ceremony, saying it needs to devote its resources to the ongoing situation resulting from the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion and fire.

Eleven workers are presumed dead and an estimated 5,000 barrels of oil are leaking every day from the well. The cause of the explosion is still unknown.

A spokeswoman for the Interior Department's Minerals Management Service said she did not know which of the three finalists for the non-monetary award had been selected, nor did she say whether the current circumstances could influence the decision if BP was the winner. Winners of the award are kept secret until the ceremony, she said.

The floating Deepwater Horizon rig that exploded and eventually sank 130 miles southeast of New Orleans is owned by Transocean Ltd., a Swiss company, but was under contract with BP. The U.S. Coast Guard has termed BP the "responsible party." In U.S. Coast Guard parlance, "responsible party" typically means the entity that owns the vessel that caused the spill and is responsible for responding to an incident.

It does not imply criminal negligence.

According to a Department of Interior's website, BP Exploration & Production Inc. is one of three finalists for a Safety Award for Excellence, which honors companies for "outstanding safety and pollution prevention performance by the offshore oil and gas industry." The other nominees are ExxonMobil Corp. and Eni US Operating Co. BP specifically was nominated in the High OCS Activity Operator category, for companies engaged in operations on the outer continental shelf.

The Minerals Management Service was to name the winner of the award at the 2010 Offshore Technology Conference in Houston next week. The annual award is an engraved plaque and a letter of citation, both signed by a Department of Interior official.

The awards program is intended to elevate awareness of safety and pollution and prevention, encourage voluntary compliance, educate the public and encourage excellence in safety and pollution prevention, the department says.

The program began in 1999, and is for a company's performance the previous year. British Petroleum has won the award once before, in 1992.

soundoff (153 Responses)
  1. Debra Kay

    Are there any type of chemicals that will break up the oil? What about DAWN soap liquid? I know that sounds crazy, but would tons of DAWN soap liquid at least soften the blow to the marshlands? I am thinking that the soap might damage foilage. Hopefully, someone will come up with an idea. However, The LEAKING needs to be STOPPED! BP needs to put as many engineers on this problem NOW.

    April 30, 2010 at 6:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Charissa

      just get on internet and type in oil-eating micro organisms. there are a ton of proven solutions bp just does not want to hear them.

      June 19, 2010 at 11:15 am | Report abuse |
    • Charissa

      oops mean oil eating microbes

      June 19, 2010 at 11:25 am | Report abuse |
  2. hillcoguy

    In ironic twist, BP finalist for pollution prevention award

    "We choose to do these things, not because they are easy...
    We choose to do these things BECAUSE THEY ARE HARD!"

    John Fitzgerald Kennedy

    April 30, 2010 at 7:17 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Joelle Whittington

    This is our greed gone vastly out of control. I say that yes the federal government should step in, but BP should be responsible for any and all costs of cleanup. This is not a natural disaster, it is a man made mistake and BP has apparently not considered what to do in a case like this.

    April 30, 2010 at 8:01 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Todd

    You are not crazy. Detergents (or suspending agents) can help "break up" a sheet of oil on the water's surface into small droplets suspended in the water. This can be a "good thing" as the latter is often less harmful. I think the question boils down to a practical one of whether spraying it from aircraft can achieve the desired effect. I think it depends a lot on the thickness and consistency of the oil layer on the water. Describing it in terms of my kitchen experience, some dishes need a lot more "elbow grease" than others.

    April 30, 2010 at 9:40 pm | Report abuse |
  5. David

    I feel that all of the major oil companies operating in the Gulf should offer to help with this situation...this is an industry and not merely a company disaster.

    April 30, 2010 at 10:20 pm | Report abuse |
  6. JC

    Here's a good question: why are we allowing foreign nationals to harvest our resources, untaxed, right off of our own coast? If we're going to be screwed, I'd like to be screwed over by an AMERICAN company, thank you very much. There is severe exposure to liability here for B.P., and should they fail to cover the expenses of cleanup, I suggest that the federal government pursue the the U.K. government (e.i., the British people) for damages. Isn't that what the Brits and others were happy to do in Iceland?

    April 30, 2010 at 10:28 pm | Report abuse |
  7. mark eyestone

    BP can suck it!

    April 30, 2010 at 10:34 pm | Report abuse |
  8. mark eyestone

    On another note...I like how this award is given for "voluntary compliance" to safety. Hey American Politicians, hows about you start making all safety requirements mandatory? What good is a program if compliance is voluntary?

    April 30, 2010 at 10:38 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Bob Wolf


    April 30, 2010 at 10:54 pm | Report abuse |
  10. freelance

    mark eyestone, the award is for "outstanding safety and pollution prevention." It ENCOURAGES voluntary compliance. But the Department of Interior has postponed the award ceremony, meaning they want to make sure BP isn't the winner.

    April 30, 2010 at 11:03 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Larry

    I hope BP wins the award. It would be just like Obama winning the Nobel Peace Prize. Except even better.

    April 30, 2010 at 11:06 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Terry Gill

    You would think we would have learned our lesson after the Exxon spill....but no...we still drill for oil. If we had put our minds to it, we could power our cars on clean energy sources and save our beautiful planet.

    April 30, 2010 at 11:10 pm | Report abuse |
  13. RS

    Yes there is chemicals that will cause oil to collect and seperate from water, the problem is it increases the weight of the oil, causing it to sink. It would be alot harder to recover the oil if it sinks to the bottom of the ocean. From what I have read, the bigger problem isn't the light oils floating on the surface of the ocean, these can be collected and cleaned using oil booms. The problem is the heavier crude oil floating submerged in the ocean.
    It will take alot of time/money/innovation to recover that I'm sure BP will put alot of all into cleaning up, no one wants to be remember for a disaster like this. Just look at Exxon. If BP was being awarded for it's outstanding safety and pollution proteciton they have been doing something right up until this unfortunate event.

    But all the eyes shouldn't be on BP, they contracted the oil rig from Transocean LTD. It could have been faulty operating or faulty design. Being top of the line, new technology like all other new technology (cars,computers,phones etc.) there are problems, although yes, this is on a much larger scale where all worst case scenarios should have been thought of

    April 30, 2010 at 11:14 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Zulkifli

    Most of the US army should be called back to do the clean up together with BP and transocean. This is a huge magnitude disaster. It is time the USA be bothered with your own internal problem instead of manipulaing other countries' politics.

    April 30, 2010 at 11:33 pm | Report abuse |
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