Wow, what a day for the petroleum people. BP (which used to be British Petroleum) has fessed up on three American investigations and will pay a huge fine. Their total fine will be over $370 million, that's a lot of money even with the strong pound and the puny U.S. dollar. It's not the best way to balance America's foreign trade deficit, but it must help, right?
The BP fines will settle THREE major cases pending against it. The oil leak from a busted pipeline in Alaska, some dirty dealings on the natural gas market whereby BP traders hiked the prices illegally, and the killer: a BP plant explosion that killed fifteen workers in Texas, injuring dozens more. It was in the Texas case that BP can claim their American record: $50 million will be the highest fine ever paid in a Clean Air Act criminal case. Four former traders face personal criminal charges in the natural gas case.
Interesting cultural variance as you read American and British versions of the BP story. In UK one newspaper actually wrote about the damage done to BP's reputation by these three cases. "The British company's problems in America have caused severe harm to its reputation among the public, interest groups and politicians. Its senior executives have come in for vitriolic criticism on Capitol Hill."
The British are so old-fashioned about things like reputation and public face. No such content to be found in American versions of the story. Reputation? Can you spend that? Nope, here in the U.S. the story is ...
All About the Money
If you still have any doubts that energy sources NOT based on fossil fuels have a bright future, take a look at today's NYMEX. Two records were set there in a single day for crude oil prices. It traded briefly at the highest level in history: $90.60, and closed at its highest end-of-day price: $90.46.