Our Former Coup Client Speaks

As I’ve said before, one of the best ways to see the absurd nature of the relationship between our government and BP as they partner to try to fix BP’s disaster is to remember that fifty-some years ago, the CIA overthrew the democratically elected government of Iran because it had nationalized BP’s facilities.

I invite you to think about that fact while you read this exchange with BP’s CEO Tony Hayward from the Beeb’s Andrew Marr Show.


What happens if, as a lot of American politicians are talking about, the US government takes control of BP or at least BP’s American operations? Is that plausible? Is that possible?


I think you know what we’re doing is focusing on the response. We’re absolutely focused on the response. I think it’s for the US authorities to determine what they wish to do. All I can say is that we’re working hand in hand with the US authorities. I am talking all the time with Secretaries Chu, Salazar, Thad Allen, the incident commander to deal with the response.


Do you feel you’re being unfairly treated by the American political system and the media given where we are in the electoral cycle?


I think it’s understandable when something of this scale occurs with this sort of environmental impact – the impact it’s had on the Gulf Coast – that people are angry and frustrated and emotional. It’s a perfectly reasonable thing. And you know I’m angry and frustrated and you know …


I mean no British company has been on the receiving end of American presidential anger like this I think ever before. That and the possibility of some political action and criminal action against the company has led people to start to ask whether BP itself is going to survive this.


BP’s a very strong company. Its operations today are running extremely well. It’s generating a lot of cash flow. It has a very strong balance sheet. Our reputation has been based on thousands of people over a long period of time in BP doing the right thing, and we are doing everything we can to do the right thing. We are going to stop the leak. We’re going to clean up the oil. We’re going to remediate any environmental damage and we are going to return the Gulf Coast to the position it was in prior to this event. That’s an absolute commitment, and we will be there long after the media has gone making good on our promises.


And once you’ve done all of that, will you be paying the dividend to your investors?


We’re going to take care of all of our stakeholders.

Don’t worry, Hayward told his British audience. The US won’t take over BP (or even its US operations). Nothing the US will do will prevent us from paying our dividend on time.

You see, the US can take over a country to serve BP’s interests. But it would be absurd, Hayward clearly believes, to think the US would take over BP to serve its own people.

44 replies
  1. bobschacht says:

    So, do you think BP claims residual interest in Iran’s oil? The way Cheney was playing with war in Iran, it looked like he had his eye on the old BP oil interest in the SW corner of Iran. Is this still playing a role in our Iran policies?

    Bob in AZ

  2. ghostof911 says:

    Marcie’s reference. Where the CIA got its training wheels.

    Coup 53 of Iran is the CIA’s (Central Intelligence Agency) first successful overthrow of a foreign government.

    Like Israel, BP has no fear whatsoever of the US making a fuss about it. They both have the goods on the US government/military involvement in the conspiracy that provoked the Iraq war. Call it blackmail if you like, but it is what it is.

  3. earlofhuntingdon says:

    If Hayward or his questioner think BP has been on the receiving end of presidential “anger” rather than cooperation, he hasn’t been to a tea party with reverse V signs instead of cucumber sandwiches, or seen a figure burning in effigy who isn’t a caricature of Guy Fawkes.

  4. earlofhuntingdon says:

    The reports of “anti-British” feeling seem manufactured to garner domestic support in the UK and to encourage, as if it were needed, the new UK government to throw its bantam weight into the ring to help BP make the US government be even nicer. Anger here, as low level as it is, is directed at BP’s business practices, its incompetence, and its tolerance of risks that others will have to live with when something goes South.

  5. kindGSL says:

    I mean no British company has been on the receiving end of American presidential anger like this I think ever before.

    He must not have heard of the Tea Party. I do believe it was the start of a war and Britain lost a big chunk of land over it.

  6. emptywheel says:

    Remember this post, where I suggested BP may be segregating off cleanup in a US unit led by a veteran of its failed Russian experiment as a way to limit its losses?

    Yves Smith suspects the same thing.

    If the Guardian has this right, BP could be in the process of trying to maneuver to keep US claimants from getting access to the full resources of the company to pay reparations in the Gulf. This could get nasty indeed.

    • bmaz says:

      Shocking! I mean, really, it is not like there is any history or track record of BP drop shipping liability for its corporate crimes to a fourth or fifth tier subsidiary expressly for the purpose of isolation of accountability you know.

      But it would be absurd, Hayward clearly believes, to think the US would take over BP to serve its own people.

      Hayward is right.

  7. manys says:

    Hayward casts the lie with, “…we are going to return the Gulf Coast to the position it was in prior to this event.”

    • Leen says:

      someone must be applying enormous pressure on Hayward. He has switched from “modest” and “I want my life back” to having some sort of forced empathetic epiphany. Sounds like he went to some touchy feely workshop for fat cat executives. I’m trying my best to feel your pain.

      Whether these new “we accept full responsibility” comes from a sincere place in a person or a forced empathetic epiphany.. BP is feeling the pressure seeing the possibility that they could go down

      • Leen says:

        Tony goes from “modest” spill and “I want my life back” to


        “I think it’s understandable when something of this scale occurs with this sort of environmental impact – the impact it’s had on the Gulf Coast – that people are angry and frustrated and emotional. It’s a perfectly reasonable thing. And you know I’m angry and frustrated and you know.”

        I’m telling you that was one of the quickest empathetic epiphanies that I have ever witnessed. Never heard any of the Wall Street fat cats say anything like that. They knew they had the Bush, Obama and the tax payers by the economic balls. Hand us the keys to the treasury or we will cut off our family jewels.

        Tony goes

  8. Leen says:

    ew “You see, the US can take over a country to serve BP’s interests. But it would be absurd, Hayward clearly believes, to think the US would take over BP to serve its own people.”

    So appreciate you bringing our attention back to this.

      • JasonLeopold says:

        That’s one I have been working on :)

        The feelings about him are mixed from employees. No one feels he is truly independent and responds to all the complaints (some of that is to be expected). But the reasons BP brought him in are certainly interesting.

  9. JohnLopresti says:

    I agree that the interviewer thematic questions play to that news entity*s primary audience. Local papers seek to push known buttons of **readership**. Yet, I had wondered what future merger/hostile takeover hawks might be pondering for ways to reconfigure British Petroleum Co as debt mounts during a protracted cleanup and remediation process. Time for marcom to build a new corporate rebranding campaign if only as a temporizing measure.

  10. barne says:

    Emptywheel is brave.

    Big name journalist “heroes” mostly cower, telling themselves, “If I lost this gig, they’d just fill it with somebody worse. And, then, I’d no longer be in position to guard democracy against the really big threat which might come down the road someday. ‘Cause when THAT day comes, boy, I’m going to step up!”

  11. Frank33 says:

    Here is another link, if it has not been noticed. There was a Secret History written, “The CIA now says that about 1,000 pages of documentation remain locked in agency vaults.”

    The most interesting new tidbit here is that the CIA’s agents harassed religious leaders and bombed one’s home in order to turn them against Mossadeq…

    They indicate that the British played a larger—though still subordinate—role in the coup than was previously known, providing part of the financing for it and using their intelligence network (led by the Rashidian brothers) to influence members of the parliament and do other things.

  12. Leen says:



    I am assuming that these two reporters have only talked with Israeli officials for this article. No other perspective.
    Call the Turkish activist “militants”

    Say that the original shots were fired in the air when the raid began. The reporter (Jamal El Shayyal) who reported from the deck of the Mavi Marmara that two people on the ship had all ready been injured before the IDF “militants” hit the deck.

  13. fatster says:

    AP IMPACT: Many Gulf federal judges have oil links

    “More than half of the federal judges in districts where the bulk of Gulf oil spill-related lawsuits are pending have financial connections to the oil and gas industry, complicating the task of finding judges without conflicts to hear the cases, . . . ”


    • PJEvans says:

      Heck, I have connections to the petroleum industry in the Gulf. And I live a thousand miles away from it.

  14. fatster says:

    Anybody care to hazard a guess about what Adm. Thud is actually saying?

    Allen Explains Why Oil-Sucking Tankers Aren’t Being Used

    “We’ve actually talked to those [oil-sucking tanger] folks.  There are a couple of issues with that.  Number one, the tankers actually have to be modified.  They are not ready to go right now.  Number two, we don’t know what those modifications will do to the stability of the vessels and how they operate and number thee, the area of operations is very, very different.  We’ve got anywhere from 20 to 30 vessels within one square mile over the top of that well at any particular time, managing remotely operating vehicles, doing the drilling of the relief well and so forth, so I’m not sure it’s the right application of that right now.”


    • PJEvans says:

      He’s saying that it’s too crowded to put supertankers in that part of the gulf. (They have several ROVs, which have at least two ships of their own, they have two rigs drilling the relief wells, they have the ship that’s presumably collecting whatever they’re capturing from the leak. And probably another one or two….)

      Think of an airport terminal: you can only park so many planes around it.

      • fatster says:

        I understand the words, PJEvans, though I do thank you. I just don’t have a whole lot of confidence at this point. After all, the Dutch offered to send their “sweeping arm system” on April 23. Their offer was accepted about a month later and now six are in Houston being assembled by Dutch experts. However, “Thad Allen would neither confirm nor deny that the technology would be used in the Gulf oil spill.” And do note that the Dutch “sweeping arm system” has to be as on top of the “spill” as possible and we now learn the congestion at the site might make that impossible. Dunno.


        • bobschacht says:

          If the sweeping arm system works mainly on the surface, station it between the well and the coastal areas directly threatened by oil. I don’t know what their problem is.

          Bob in AZ

      • bobschacht says:

        That would be an important argument only if the oil spill were confined to the immediate vicinity of the well. But obviously it is not. You could send those supertankers to the area between the well and the shore where there are oil plumes, and suck up the oil before it hits the coast.

        Bob in AZ

        • PJEvans says:

          well, as I understand it, the underwater stuff isn’t easily accessible or collectable – and that’s the majority of it. The stuff on the surface is easy to collect at the edges, but is otherwise not really a thick layer (think fractions of an inch, in spite of what it looks like) so they’d be having to separate out a lot of water – that’s what the Dutch system is for, I think, to skim that thin layer off the surface. And they can put that pretty much anywhere they can find the oil. Right where the gusher is, though, is where all the work is going on, and it’s getting crowded – they don’t want the ships close together, because they need room to maneuver equipment around them, and having a shipwreck on top of this is, um, not a good idea. (Go read at the Oil Drum, they have a lot of coverage. And more expertise.)

          But at least they aren’t going to try nuking it (an idea which is surprisingly popular, considering that it’s against at least two treaties).

          • fatster says:

            & bobschacht.

            Another problem is the lack of skimmers. Pardon the relink, but if you’ll go here and watch the little video, too, one of the Fl Gulf mayors was talking about the lack of skimmers to catch the oil that the locals had surrounded with the booms. Why? I don’t know if it’s the enormous complexity of the situation, incompetence, my own ignorance, or what, but very little seems to get done. As one of the mayors said, after meeting with the BP rep for 45 minutes, “”(Fryar) made it very clear to us … that (BP’s) first obligation is their shareholders,” Kennon said.”

            • fatster says:

              BTW, David Dayen in his News “Roundup” for the day reports that BP says it is now capturing 10,000 barrels a day now. I do hope so.

              • PJEvans says:

                They’re arguing about that over at the Oil Drum, also. Nobody really believes BP’s figures, such as they are.

                And all of BP’s cleanup efforts seem to be done for the visiting cameras and politicians, AFAICT. That they’re really trying to kill the gusher, I will believe, because they don’t want to lose that lease.

                • fatster says:

                  Thanks for the update, PJEvans. I go from heart-heavy to heart-hopey and then back again. As you can no doubt tell, I need to go take a nice long walk.

              • bmaz says:

                That sounds all wonderful, but I still would bet pretty decent money that, considering how much the flow was increased by cutting the riser and the fact they are not able to seal optimally because of the rough sawing job, there is still as much total volume of oil being leaked into the water as before. If it is less, it is not less by very much at all. However, BP now has a financially productive well, so we got that going for us.

                • fatster says:

                  Well, there goes the hopey stuff for the afternoon. Tying the laces on my tennis shoes right now (actually, I’m so clumsy that I my tennis shoes don’t have laces).

  15. prostratedragon says:

    I wonder why he said “stakeholders.” Show his tutors that their remedial ministrations are taking at last? Nail someone/some group in the blocks by hinting at positive action?

    Anyway, I think the word choice no more accidental than his earlier pronouncements.

  16. sojourner says:

    I just have to ask: What is the problem here?? Isn’t America the land of the bottom line, and no one (of importance) should lose a dime? What am I missing?

  17. thatvisionthing says:

    Global transparency!

    What seemed to excite him most in his chats was his supposed leaking of the embassy cables. He anticipated returning to the states after his early discharge, and watching from the sidelines as his action bared the secret history of U.S. diplomacy around the world.

    “Everywhere there’s a U.S. post, there’s a diplomatic scandal that will be revealed,” Manning wrote. “It’s open diplomacy. World-wide anarchy in CSV format. It’s Climategate with a global scope, and breathtaking depth. It’s beautiful, and horrifying.”

  18. mattcarmody says:

    Anyone know if there’s been any talk on recovering royalties for the oil that’s been lost so far?

    • croghan27 says:

      Is the spill going to be like invading Iraq?

      Last 6 months and pay for itself with the oil revenues?

      Paul Wolfowitz, 64, Deputy Secretary of Defense, 2001-2005. He was one of the persons who signed the PNAC letter to President Clinton, and while a member of the Bush administration developed the doctrine of pre-emption vs. containment. He also reportedly convinced Mr. Bush that a war in Iraq would “pay for itself” through oil revenues.

      from Iraq Heros http://iraq-heroes.blogspot.com/

  19. fatster says:

    from Nov, 2009:

    Tony Hayward makes his mark on BP
    Ruthless cuts by the new boss have produced results in higher than expected profits


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