Washington, DC -- Today, Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-MA), a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, blasted witnesses from BP and the Bush Administration at the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee hearing on BP’s lax maintenance of their oil pipelines in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska.  It has become clear that BP did not adequately maintain its oil pipelines, despite warnings from employees and multiple reports questioning the condition of the pipelines.

Markey said, “It appears to me that Management at BP’s Alaska’s operations knew that they were essentially driving a car with over 100,000 miles on it without bothering to spend the time and money needed to keep it running safely. BP should not have been surprised that it broke down eventually.”

BP had a 2004 report from Vincent and Elkins that pointed out some of these problems and they had a 2005 Audit report that reaffirmed their continued existence.  But the pipeline corrosion control systems were not re-vamped after these warnings.  Moreover, it appears that the allegations of harassment or retaliation against whistleblowers that highlighted pipeline deficiencies were not thoroughly investigated by management at BP. 

“BP is one of the largest and most profitable oil companies in the world.  BP used to stand for Beyond Petroleum, now it stands for Behemoth Profits.  It clearly has the money to be able to properly maintain its pipelines, and it failed to do so,” Markey continued.

Rep. Markey asked Mr. Marshall of BP a number of questions about an internal audit issued in April of 2005 called "BPXA Corrosion Management System Technical Review,” and another investigative report by the law firm of Vinson & Elkins, which was charged with looking into allegations of workplace harassment AND corrosion‑data falsification in the Corrosion, Inspection, and Chemicals (CIC) group.

Vinson and Elkins report included many troubling facts that Rep. Markey questioned BP on:

·        “It is not clear exactly what motivated [the CIC manager] to insist that the coupon crew be reduced from eight workers to six; during our interview of him, he told us that there was no budget pressure, as the CIC budget was increasing at this time.  It appears to have been driven by a metric he developed that total coupon pulls had been reduced by 25%, which he believed had to translate to a 25% reduction in crew size..." [page 17]
·        "Our overall conclusion is that there is an atmosphere in the CIC group that chills reporting HSE concerns, especially among several employees of the coupon crew."  [page 2]
·        "[The Corrosion Inspection and Chemicals] manager is brutal, and screams and shouts at contractors." [page 10, appendix]
·        "Independent corrosion experts, who were all formerly contractors working on Prudhoe Bay, have resigned their positions over the last few years allegedly due to their growing worries over the potential for a serious incident on the field." [page 7]
·        "Six disciplinary letters in five weeks written on the BP field crew in the WOA [Western Operating Area] while there were no discipline letters written in the EOA [Eastern Operating Area].  BP management is retaliating for the safety and mechanical integrity concerns brought up by this crew." [page 8]
·        "Status:  We have been told by one person that an operator, [name redacted], resigned because of concerns over pipe integrity.  Others suggested this was not why he resigned.  We have tried to contact [name redacted] to interview him and have been thus far unsuccessful.  We are aware of no other persons who could possibly fit this description."
·        "Status:  We have been informed that the [Corrosion Inspection and Chemicals manager] had very poor communications skills, but has recently been improving.  This is a very common perception."

“BP maximized short-term profits at the expense of maintaining the integrity of these pipelines, despite having clear evidence that such a strategy would result in leaks.  And there are even indications that those within the company who raised concerns about this strategy would be harassed or retaliated against.  It’s time for the Congress to take a good, long look at how to improve the security and safety of our oil pipelines because it is clear that the oil industry and this Administration aren’t doing nearly enough,” Markey stated.

September 7, 2006

CONTACT: Israel Klein