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. JR Martin

    This is a disaster that needs new ideas to solve. Here's one that will disperse, aggregate and sink the oil before it reaches land. Microbes under the sea can then take their time to degrade the oil. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FFxM-JFrWCE Maybe someone in BP can take note and follow up.

    May 2, 2010 at 3:06 am | Report abuse |
  2. CRIS


    May 2, 2010 at 6:50 am | Report abuse |
  3. psksundance

    I don't understand how a company can win a reward seven years before the program that issues it is started.

    May 2, 2010 at 8:32 am | Report abuse |
  4. Ed Churchill

    Gee – what an ironic twist – BP being nominated as finalist for pollution prevention award considering that they pore partial responsibility for the oil spill by not ensuring the operators of the oil rig had never performed an entire safety check of the blow off value to prove it was in good working condition. Let's just hope they pay for cost of clean up from their profits and not pass on the cost to us consumers.

    May 2, 2010 at 10:06 am | Report abuse |
  5. Ed Churchill

    Correcting to error in the original comment.

    Gee – what an ironic twist – BP being nominated as finalist for pollution prevention award considering that they bore partial responsibility for the oil spill by not ensuring the operators of the oil rig had performed an entire safety check of the blow off value to prove it was in good working condition. Let's just hope they pay for cost of clean up from their profits and not pass on the cost to us consumers

    May 2, 2010 at 10:07 am | Report abuse |

    Everybody buy BP products so we all can chip in and help pay for the cleanup!!

    May 2, 2010 at 10:44 am | Report abuse |
  7. Derek

    I agree with Shane. There is a lot of hysterical scare mongering going on here. BP maybe negligent in its operation of this facility, but I doubt it, as BP prides itself on its safety record of it many operations worldwide.

    The blame game is out of control in these comments, after all one could blame the manufacturer of the sea floor valve that has failed to shut-off the oil flow. However, the blame will always be on us the consumer, by the very fact that we purchase oil products from the oil companies. This means we take part in the oil industry, and as a consumer, we demand value for money, which means the oil industry has to deliver to a price. The Europeans may have tighter environment controls on their oil industry, but the European consumer pays a high $'s for it, and they still have leaks and spills.

    This disaster may be man made, but the oil is a natural earth product, and is part of the naturally occurring ecosystem. After all, oil often leaks to the earths surface in tar pits and the like. Nature will be badly affected by the oil spill, but bacterias will eventually eat the oil, and break it down over a few years, as discovered in the Alaska oil disaster.

    I'm thankful the Deepwater Horizon explosion was an oil facility and not a nuclear facility, otherwise hysterics would be in order, but equally futile.

    May 2, 2010 at 11:09 am | Report abuse |
  8. krehator

    No business is going to admit wrong doing until forced. Every company is going to claim "safety is a priority", because it is good marketing. You don't actually expect them to say anything else do you? Lots of companies have a safety plan on record that sounds great. How they are implemented is another thing. We live in a world full of checklists for appearance sake, and you know as well as I do that most businesses are just checking the boxes, often pencil whooping it, in order to satisfy some law. Care is not a concern. Profit maximization is the priority.

    Common people are really daft.... No wonder they are poor.

    May 2, 2010 at 11:24 am | Report abuse |
  9. Rick McDaniel

    Guess that puts them out of the running, now, doesn't it????

    May 2, 2010 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Larry Valecia, Calif.

    The UK should pay for this mess!!! This is what happens when you have off shore drilling!!! I was against it all along... Better there than the West Coast...

    May 2, 2010 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Shelly Man

    This ranks up there with Al Gore's and Obama's Nobel Peace Prize.

    May 2, 2010 at 6:49 pm | Report abuse |

    Yeah Yeah Yeah.........And Toyota's up for the safest vehicle award too, I guess!

    May 2, 2010 at 8:31 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Simon

    Anyone who has used oil during their lifetime should help clean-up.

    May 2, 2010 at 8:59 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Jeff

    The issue is not whther or not we we use gas blahblahblah... this is the resource we mostly use at the moment. With few exceptions we have become complacent regarding oil drilling. Today's issue is why there was not a better response industry wide for the disaster.

    There are thousands of rigs in the gulf, a major spill was inevidable and BP was relying on one valve to avert catastrophy and it failed. There was NO back-up plan. So here we are, waiting on one of two choices: capping the well, an answer that would takes months; or a dome to cover the leaking pipe, and that could take weeks and it is thouroughly untested at this depth. Meanwhile we sit and wait helpless for perhaps the worst ecological disaster in this country.

    With thousands of rigs in the gulf and knowing rthe consequences of a big spill why wasn't there an industry led spill team for this type and size of disaster? With contingency plans for multiple scenarios.

    Just because we use the resource, it doesn't relieve BP of their responsibility to mitigate the chances of disaster. We pay dearly for the resource and BP makes huge profits. The oil industry has spent billions to find new ways of extracting oil but it seems, not nearly enough to keep it from spilling into other natural resources.

    May 2, 2010 at 9:46 pm | Report abuse |
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