BP - In Deep Water

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    Auto-Scroll: ONOFF 
    • 00:32

      GREG PALAST: One year after the world's worst oil spill and BPis in trouble again in Russia whereit's massive arctic venture hangs in the balance.Tonight, we ask how BP operates.Does it get special treatment?

    • 00:52

      GREG PALAST [continued]: Is BP too big to fail?

    • 00:54

      HAROLD ELLETSON: We have to recognizethat BP is of huge significance to the British economyand plays an enormous role in ensuringthat we can enjoy the standard of living that we perhapstake for granted.

    • 01:14

      GREG PALAST: I'm Greg Palast, I've been on BPs trailfor 20 years.To understand the power and reach of BP,I've been on a journey to the front lines of their searchfor big oil and big profits.I've traveled to the Gulf of Mexico--Oh my god.--and Central Asia to hear claimsof how BP helped British spies.

    • 01:36

      GREG PALAST [continued]: So the espionage information was going to BP and MI6?

    • 01:40


    • 01:41

      GREG PALAST: One operation?

    • 01:42


    • 01:43

      GREG PALAST: And what happens whenyou try to investigate the dictatorships they work with--

    • 01:48


    • 01:56

      GREG PALAST: In April 2010, BPs Deepwater Horizon,Macondo well, blew out.Half a million tons of crude spewed into the Gulf of Mexico.The company's chief executive promised to clear it up.

    • 02:14

      TONY HAYWARD: We are going to clean every drop of oiloff the shore.We will remediate any environmental damage.And we will put the Gulf Coast right and backto normality as fast as we can.

    • 02:29

      GREG PALAST: Four months after this disaster, BP and the USgovernment claim success.

    • 02:34

      DR. JANE LUBCHENCO: The vast majority of the oilhas either evaporated or been burned, skimmed,and recovered from the well head or dispersed.And much of the dispersed oil is in the process of relativelyrapid degradation.

    • 02:53

      GREG PALAST: I wanted to find outif the largest oil spill in history really was history.Professor Rick Steiner, Marine Biologist,has been monitoring the long-term impact of oil spillsaround the world for 30 years from Nigeria to Alaska.

    • 03:09

      PROFESSOR RICK STEINER: Very nice, huh?

    • 03:11

      GREG PALAST: Yeah.

    • 03:13

      PROFESSOR RICK STEINER: Ship island.This is one of the barrier islandsin the Gulf of Mexico, part of the National Seashore complexhere.We're about 12 miles south of the Mississippi coast,right out in the Gulf of Mexico.

    • 03:27

      GREG PALAST: By the way, how far are we from the deep water?

    • 03:30

      PROFESSOR RICK STEINER: I'd say we're about 80 miles, 90 miles,maybe even 100 miles from where the Macondo blowout was.Yeah.

    • 03:38

      GREG PALAST: And if you just bend down and look at this,it sort of forms these pancakes here.

    • 03:42

      PROFESSOR RICK STEINER: That's Deepwater Horizon oil.

    • 03:44

      GREG PALAST: Look at all that.

    • 03:46

      PROFESSOR RICK STEINER: Smell the crude.This stuff is pretty heavily weathered.This is about six months after the blow out started.So this could be three months or it could be six months old.You can still smell it.So, it's still got some volatile components it.

    • 04:02

      GREG PALAST: I can still feel it.

    • 04:03

      PROFESSOR RICK STEINER: Yeah, yeah, you sure can.

    • 04:10

      GREG PALAST: 170 million gallons of oil poured outof the Macondo well.11 rig workers died.And thousands of jobs in fishing and tourismwere threatened along the Gulf Coast.Steiner said the crude hit at the most biologically sensitivetime of year, spring.Over 50,000 birds were killed and the reproductive cycles

    • 04:30

      GREG PALAST [continued]: of entire species here threatened for the future.BP promised that the Gulf Coast willreturn to baseline conditions, that is backto how it was before the spill.Five months after the spill, I wantedto see for myself if they were keeping their promise.

    • 04:50

      SPEAKER 9: I don't know.I got a guy, he's a BP representative.He would like to speak with y'all.

    • 04:54

      GREG PALAST: I would love to speak with him.I just wanted to just kind of watchwhat's actually being done.It's quite elaborate.BP said it had specially trained teams to patrolthe shore with equipment ready to deal with any tar balls thatwash up.But on this island, at least, the biggest oil spill cleanupever is being done with broom handles, kitchen utensils,

    • 05:14

      GREG PALAST [continued]: and pet litter scoopers.William Pitts is the Division Supervisor.He's been overseeing the BP cleanup of this two-mile sandspit with a team of about 30 workers.

    • 05:29

      WILLIAM PITTS: We have people that walk the shore line thatcleans up any of the new stuff.And then we have some of the old stuffthat the wind will blow out here a couple daysand it will uncover some of the stuff that'sbeen out here for awhile.

    • 05:42

      GREG PALAST: About how deep do you go?

    • 05:44

      WILLIAM PITTS: Approximately three inchesis what we're going down under this space of cleaning.

    • 05:48

      GREG PALAST: Now if a storm comes upand you have a storm surge and more comes up,are you going to have to come back?

    • 05:53

      WILLIAM PITTS: Yes, sir.I'm sure we will.

    • 05:55

      GREG PALAST: So, in other-- so you've started once,then had to go back.How many times have you got to go back?

    • 05:59

      WILLIAM PITTS: Just once.

    • 05:60

      GREG PALAST: Just once.Yeah.But it would take, what about six months, to do this island?

    • 06:04

      WILLIAM PITTS: We're really not anticipated that long,but we really don't have a time frame on it.

    • 06:10

      GREG PALAST: The island is classifiedas environmentally protected.So no mechanical cleaning is allowed.Beach cleaner Raphael Gill wanted to talk.He said he's under orders not to dig too deep.You're only supposed to go three inches, right?

    • 06:25

      SPEAKER 2: No, a quarter inch.They want you to do like this, skim the top.

    • 06:28

      GREG PALAST: You ever dug down see if there's more lower?

    • 06:31

      RAPHAEL GILL: Yeah, it is.

    • 06:32

      GREG PALAST: I thought you were supposed to godown three inches, though?No?

    • 06:35

      RAPHAEL GILL: Nah-uh, it's only a quarter inch.

    • 06:37

      GREG PALAST: Quarter inch?

    • 06:38


    • 06:39

      RAPHAEL GILL: They don't want you digging.They don't want you digging.

    • 06:43

      GREG PALAST: Can you go in the waterand get the mats out so they don't wash up?

    • 06:47


    • 06:47

      SPEAKER 3: We're not allowed to touch the water.

    • 06:51

      GREG PALAST: In fact, Rafael doubtsthey'll ever get all the oil, as BP promised.

    • 06:56

      RAPHAEL GILL: Yeah, it's going to always come back.It's a lot of oil out there.They say it ain't, but it is.Because I know we get forty or fifty pounds of oil every day.Then we're out of here.Probably more than that.

    • 07:14

      PROFESSOR RICK STEINER: These arebig mats of oil on the sea bed right out here.Right here.This is tarballs.They're all throughout the water.This stuff is still out there on the seafloor.

    • 07:35

      PROFESSOR RICK STEINER [continued]: It's going to keep coming ashore here for months, if not yearsinto the future.And there's really not much of a way--

    • 07:42

      GREG PALAST: It'll go back there.

    • 07:43

      PROFESSOR RICK STEINER: Yeah, and then,of course, the first storm that comes through here, it'lltake it right back out.Look at this.This is stuff that has just come ashore here.

    • 07:54

      GREG PALAST: Uh!Oh, my god!

    • 07:57


    • 07:59

      GREG PALAST: This just came in.

    • 08:00

      PROFESSOR RICK STEINER: --tar balls.

    • 08:03

      GREG PALAST: Whether three inches or quarter inch,Professor Steiner says BPs work is just clean theatre--superficial and cosmetic.They've done about 500 yards in a month.And they only have the rest of this beach and another 600miles to go.

    • 08:26

      GREG PALAST [continued]: And then they got to do it again.BP told us it is adhering National Park Serviceguidelines to protect wildlife while facilitatingmaximum cleaning of the beaches.60 years of oil and gas explorationhas steadily eaten away at the coastline here contributing

    • 08:49

      GREG PALAST [continued]: to an even greater catastrophe.In 2005, Louisiana and New Orleanswere devastated by Hurricane Katrina.At least 2000 people lost their lives.

    • 09:14

      GREG PALAST [continued]: Hurricane expert Dr. Ivor van Heerdenmakes a devastating claim, that oil and gas drillingdirectly contributed to the destruction of the city.This is all that remains of Louisiana's wetland.van Heerden says around half of this destructionis due to the drilling and dredging by BP and other oil

    • 09:37

      GREG PALAST [continued]: and gas companies.Years ago, this land below was coveredin thick cypress forests and home to large herds of cattle.Now, 300 acres of it vanishes every week.

    • 09:58

      GREG PALAST [continued]: Back in New Orleans, van Heerden took meto the Lower Ninth Ward, the district worst hit by Katrina.

    • 10:05

      IVOR VAN HEERDEN: The rescue teams utilized a codeto indicate what they found.And if they found dead bodies, theywould indicate that on the wall.So, there's a two.It indicates there were two bodies.Water would have been higher than the tops of the roofs.So--

    • 10:22

      GREG PALAST: The water was higherthan the tops of these roofs?

    • 10:24

      IVOR VAN HEERDEN: Water would have been higherthan the numbering there.

    • 10:27

      GREG PALAST: Exactly how does the oil industry rip upwetlands?I mean, they just stick a pipe-- they just drill in it, right?

    • 10:34

      IVOR VAN HEERDEN: Well, you've gotthis carpet of grass, the marshes,and they want to drill over here.In order to get there, they dredge a canal.And then they want to lay a pipeline.So then they dredge another canal to lay the pipeline.Then they want to go to another site.So they just kept dredging to wherever they wanted to go.And so, as a result, we took this beautiful carpet,

    • 10:56

      IVOR VAN HEERDEN [continued]: we starved it to death and then we cut it up.We dissected it with 10,000 miles of canals.Over 10% of our surface area of our wetlands is canals.And this led to probably 50% of our land loss.

    • 11:13

      GREG PALAST: Now BP and other companies are going offshore.So that should protect the wetlands, right?That's good news for the wetlands.

    • 11:20

      IVOR VAN HEERDEN: The aspects of offshore drillingthat are important for coastal environmentslike Louisiana is you've got to have pipelinesto bring the stuff to shore.So you've still got to have canalscutting through your wetlands.

    • 11:32

      GREG PALAST: So why should peoplegive a damn about the wetlands?

    • 11:36

      IVOR VAN HEERDEN: Because the ultimate protectionfor Louisiana from storm surges are our wet lands.Our marshes is a healthy marsh, will reduce the surge by onefoot per mile.A cypress swamp can reduce the surgeby six foot within a few hundred feet to about a mile.So just imagine now cypress swamps

    • 11:58

      IVOR VAN HEERDEN [continued]: used to be very thick stands of treesthe water's got to try and move through that.There's lots of friction.And so you slow down this surge.Katrina missed New Orleans by 35 miles.And here it totally fills the citybecause the surge was so high because wedon't have that wetland apron, the outer line of defense

    • 12:18

      IVOR VAN HEERDEN [continued]: that we used have.

    • 12:19

      GREG PALAST: What if Katrina hit and we never had an oil and gasindustry?What would have happened?

    • 12:24

      IVOR VAN HEERDEN: Basically, we would have had half a millionacres more wetland than we had when Katrina hit it would'vebeen a storm of no note.

    • 12:31

      GREG PALAST: So, wait, if we didn'thave that industry touch Louisiana,Katrina would've been the storm of no note.

    • 12:39

      IVOR VAN HEERDEN: That's correct.

    • 12:43

      GREG PALAST: Protecting New Orleans from another Katrinadepends on restoring the wetlands.But who will pay for it?In 2005, Louisiana Supreme Court ruledthat oil and gas companies like BPhad no obligation to restore the marshlands damaged

    • 13:03

      GREG PALAST [continued]: by their drilling.The America's Wetland Foundation campaigns for the restorationof these crucial sea defenses.I went to see their chairman, Louisiana banker, King Milling,to find out more.Greg Palast, nice to meet you.

    • 13:22

      KING MILLING: How are you?

    • 13:22

      GREG PALAST: OK.Pretty good digs for an environmental group,I have to say.Milling blames the dangerous loss of wetlandsmainly on decades of mismanagementof the Mississippi River.

    • 13:34

      KING MILLING: The Mississippi pathcreated this massive ecosystem, whichwe call America's wetland.What you can see in red and in orangeis a reflection of what the loss of this area since 1930.

    • 13:48

      GREG PALAST: It looks like it's going to disappearunless you do something.

    • 13:51

      KING MILLING: Precisely, precisely.You have broken the code.

    • 13:55

      GREG PALAST: It's catastrophic.

    • 13:56

      KING MILLING: It is catastrophic.

    • 13:58

      GREG PALAST: What is the contribution of the oilcompanies and oil drilling operations to--

    • 14:03

      KING MILLING: I was getting in to that right now.The fact of the matter, this has been going on for 80 years.And we know the deterioration of the system.We understand that basis.We know that there was a contributing factor.We know that these large scale navigation canalswere contributing factors.We know that every fishing lover, and every doggin,

    • 14:27

      KING MILLING [continued]: and every boat that goes through thiscauses a degree of deterioration.You can see it.

    • 14:33

      GREG PALAST: But fishing boats don't dredge big canals,do they?

    • 14:35

      KING MILLING: No, but when they gothrough it, as do other rest of it, they suck in these canals.But not everything on either side begins to push in.I mean this is a dynamic issue.It's awful hard to say x did it or y did it.

    • 14:50

      GREG PALAST: Now America's wetland policy--should the oil companies be required to restore and fixthe damage they caused?

    • 14:59

      KING MILLING: Our policy has been first back offfor a minute.Let's understand what the America's wetland is, OK.Because, I don't think you have a clue.Do you?Why don't you tell me what you think the America's wetland is?

    • 15:12

      GREG PALAST: Can we take a look at that the PSA?Do you have one of your PSAs here?Do we have that?So this is part of your education program.[VIDEO PLAYBACK]-The majesty of nature.The power of energy.This Gulf Coast is world renowned.It also fuels our nation keeping us warm in winter,cool in summer, and moving all year long.But America's energy coast is threatened.

    • 15:33

      GREG PALAST [continued]: With each new storm, we lose valuable land and the abilityto keep our energy supply safe.Relying on foreign oil is too risky.Tell Washington to shore America's energy coast.It fuels the nation.[END PLAYBACK]

    • 15:49

      KING MILLING: Yes.

    • 15:51

      GREG PALAST: To me, this sounded more like a pitchfor the oil lobby.Now one of the questions is it says, storms cause damageand it also says we can't rely on foreign oil.What does that have to do with your protectionof the local coast.

    • 16:02

      KING MILLING: We do have to protect our--[INTERPOSING VOICES]

    • 16:03

      GREG PALAST: I thought this organization wasabout protecting the wetlands.

    • 16:05

      KING MILLING: But the reason that becomes importantis this-- is that if we lose this area, whatdoes the country lose.

    • 16:13

      GREG PALAST: I'm sure it loses a lot.How much--

    • 16:15

      KING MILLING: Well, no, wait.Well, stop.Now wait.Let's, let's, let me-- you don't let me fin--

    • 16:19

      GREG PALAST: You know what?I'm going to ask you to finish one question, whichyou haven't answered.Does by policy America's Wetland agreewith other environmental groups thatsay that the oil industry should pay for the damagethat they created.

    • 16:33

      KING MILLING: The answer is--

    • 16:33


    • 16:34

      KING MILLING: We're not in that game.

    • 16:35

      GREG PALAST: We're a long way from yes or no, yeton question--

    • 16:38

      KING MILLING: Because I don't have a yes or no answer.This is the most complex set of facts facingany area in this country.And you're from England, what the hell do you know about it?

    • 16:49

      GREG PALAST: OK, here's a question for you.Should the oil industry repair the damage they created?It's a yes or no.Yes?No?

    • 16:57

      KING MILLING: I know no reason to make them do it.Now, if there's a reason to make them do itsomebody ought to make them do it.But I will tell you this, I'm not-- that's not my business.

    • 17:08

      GREG PALAST: It turns out that America's Wetland has acceptedsponsorship from several major oil companies, including BP.How much has Shell Oil, BP, and the rest of these companiescontributed to your operations?I'm not just talking about--

    • 17:25

      KING MILLING: I don't have a clue.I really don't.

    • 17:27

      GREG PALAST: You don't have a clue?

    • 17:28

      KING MILLING: I really don't.

    • 17:28

      GREG PALAST: You don't know that it's almost all of your money?

    • 17:31

      KING MILLING: No, it is not almost all of our money.But it has been significant.There's no doubt about it.

    • 17:34

      GREG PALAST: Most of your money?

    • 17:36

      KING MILLING: So what?

    • 17:37

      GREG PALAST: Wait, was that a yes or no?

    • 17:39

      KING MILLING: I would say most, but I don't know.

    • 17:40

      GREG PALAST: You would say most.

    • 17:41

      KING MILLING: Yeah.

    • 17:41

      GREG PALAST: OK, yeah.I'll tell you what-- Actually, you can't-- you can't--

    • 17:44

      KING MILLING: Stop, stop, stop.Look, look, we're through with this.

    • 17:47

      GREG PALAST: You have to agree with--

    • 17:48

      KING MILLING: Would you all do me a favor?Pick this up, get out of here.

    • 17:51

      GREG PALAST: Yes, sir.Later, we discovered that King Millingwas part of the Louisiana governor's delegationto Washington that lobbied successfullyfor an early lifting of the post blowout ban of deep waterdrilling.

    • 18:13

      GREG PALAST [continued]: Their blowout in the Gulf of Mexicodoesn't seem to have got in BPs way at all.The Arctic is BPs final frontier.In January this year, BP signed a massive deep water deal

    • 18:36

      GREG PALAST [continued]: with Russia's state oil giant, Rosneft,under the approving gaze of Britain's secretaryof state for energy.

    • 18:42

      CHRIS HUHNE: The British governmentwelcomes this strategic global partnershipbetween BP and Rosneft.

    • 18:50

      GREG PALAST: Their controversial 10 billionpound deal would open up access to over 60 billion barrelsof oil in one of the planet's last virgin territories.Production could begin within four years.But BP is no stranger to the Arctic.I flew to Prudhoe Bay, off the north coast of Alaska,

    • 19:13

      GREG PALAST [continued]: where BP has been drilling the largest oil field in Americasince 1969.Way above the Arctic Circle, they'vetaken over an entire bay.Their current and planned operations

    • 19:34

      GREG PALAST [continued]: here are crucial to the company's future.We're in Dead Horse, in Prudhoe Bay.This is BPs treasure trove.It's just above the Arctic Circleand no one's allowed to film here unless BP says it's OK.

    • 19:54

      GREG PALAST [continued]: In March 2006, a hole in one of BPs pipesdumped over 200,000 gallons of crude oilinto this Arctic wilderness.The prosecuting attorney said that BP cut cornerswith disastrous consequences.British Petroleum Exploration Alaska

    • 20:15

      GREG PALAST [continued]: plead guilty to a criminal violation of the Clean WaterAct and was fined $20 million.But it's not held them back in Alaska.This is BPs new Liberty Project.They're making a fake island, they're going to drill down,and then they're going to drill way out under the Arctic Ocean.

    • 20:36

      GREG PALAST [continued]: We can only show you a map because if we get caughtfilming one inch of the Liberty Project without BPs permission,we could get busted for violating national security.With six wells of up to eight miles in length,it will be the most extreme drillingoperation in the world.But their deep water drilling expertise

    • 20:56

      GREG PALAST [continued]: is what makes BP such an attractive partnerfor the Russians.BP in Alaska has the state government right behind it.It recently slashed taxes on oil production, almosthalf the states' income is from the oil industry.

    • 21:18

      GREG PALAST [continued]: With such enthusiastic backing, there'slittle to stand in BPs way.This is last place on earth.There's nothing between us and Norwayexcept what's underneath-- the oil that BP wants.

    • 21:41

      GREG PALAST [continued]: A local Inupiat leader took us to a remote sandbarinto Beaufort Sea.

    • 21:55

      SPEAKER 4: Frozen ground already.

    • 22:00

      GREG PALAST: I'd come to see one of Alaska's other treasures.Marine scientists warn a blowout at this time of yearcould mean an unstoppable oil flow for months.

    • 22:25

      GREG PALAST [continued]: Crude could spread under the ice as faras Norway, devastating wildlife across the Arctic.BP told us it will develop the Liberty Project safelyand carefully, and that it has a detailed oil spill responseplan.[INAUDIBLE]Alaska's politicians including Republican

    • 22:46

      GREG PALAST [continued]: presidential hopeful, Sarah Palin,opposed listing polar bears as endangeredbecause that could halt new drilling.We left our half ton friend to follow the oil, which

    • 23:07

      GREG PALAST [continued]: flows out of Prudhoe Bay across Alaska,inside this 800 mile pipe.It's called the Trans Alaska Pipeline System.And it's owned by Alyeska, a company in which BPhas the largest share.

    • 23:29

      GREG PALAST [continued]: The pipe ends here at the port of Valdez.In 1989, the once pristine waters of this inletwere poisoned by 11 million gallonsof oil spilled from the tanker the Exxon Valdez.The oil was from Prudhoe Bay.

    • 23:50

      GREG PALAST [continued]: Birds, sea mammals, and fish were wiped out.Some species gone forever.The incomes of entire communities were destroyed.Tankers ground all the time, collide,

    • 24:11

      GREG PALAST [continued]: wells blow out and leak.It's not about the grounding, it'snot even about the blow out.It's about containing the oil where it hits,where the tanker hits the pipeline blows.Now in Alaska, there was one companyand it wasn't Exxon that was responsible for making surethat oil didn't leave the ship and destroy the coast line.

    • 24:31

      GREG PALAST [continued]: And that company is Alyeska Pipeline.[PLANE ENGINE STARTS]For the last two decades, Dave Jockahas been monitoring spilled Valdez

    • 24:52

      GREG PALAST [continued]: oil for the Prince William Sound Science Center and the Alaskaattorney general.Dave flew me over to where the Exxon Valdez struckBligh reef and then down to Knight island and Death Marsh.

    • 25:14

      SPEAKER 5: On the shore.

    • 25:17

      GREG PALAST: Alyeska's response to the Exxon Valdez spillwas so slow that 1,300 miles of shoreline was oiled.They didn't have the equipment or personnel on siteto deal with the 11 million gallonsof crude floating across the Prince William Sound.[INAUDIBLE]

    • 25:39

      GREG PALAST [continued]: But within days of the spill, Alyeskasaid it thought it's people had done an excellent job.

    • 25:47

      DAVE JOCKA: So you're like, just kindof poking my fingers into this.It all looks black, especially with this rainy day.But using some clean water here to wash the dirt off.And then the stuff that doesn't wash offis very sticky and very smelly.

    • 26:06

      GREG PALAST: Yeah.

    • 26:07

      DAVE JOCKA: If you let this set, youcan start to see all these areas start to leech out the sheen.

    • 26:15

      GREG PALAST: Alyeska's spill response plansaid the company would direct cleanup operations of spillsfrom tankers carrying Trans Alaska Pipelineoil through the Prince William Sound in such a wayas to make federal or state intervention or takeoversunnecessary.

    • 26:31

      DAVE JOCKA: Look at some of our footprintshere where I didn't even dig, and there'sa rainbow sheen just right there.

    • 26:40

      GREG PALAST: We can see a black--[INAUDIBLE]

    • 26:44

      GREG PALAST: Ooh!Barnacles are living here.And there's some mussels here too.They're existing with it, but they'recertainly not the healthiest.You want your clams leaded or unleaded.Those are the two flavors.22 years and over $4 billion later and the oil

    • 27:07

      GREG PALAST [continued]: is still there.The Gulf of Mexico spill is estimatedto be 20 times bigger.

    • 27:14

      DAVE JOCKA: These are going to take back in the Ziploc.Wash some of the dirt off of this.

    • 27:20

      GREG PALAST: This is that special padwhich just picks up oil.It's not going to pick up water or other dirtonce you wash it off.This is a what?20-year-old?Alyeska said it was only requiredto operate the spill response for the first 72 hours.A BP spokesman said the company has very little

    • 27:41

      GREG PALAST [continued]: to say about the Exxon Valdez oil spill.And that Alyeska is an independent organization thatworks for an owner's committee.Yet, all but two of Alyeska's presidentshave come on loan from BP.Along the coast, I met up with the Dan Long,

    • 28:03

      GREG PALAST [continued]: a man who was, for years, responsible for monitoringthe Alaska pipeline and oil shippingfor the state of Alaska.Long drove me along a snaking 400 mile section of the pipe.In the last five years alone, over 220,000 gallons of oilhad been spilled from this pipeline.

    • 28:27

      GREG PALAST [continued]: Sections of the pipe are undergoing maintenancethe salmon-rich Copper River.

    • 28:35

      DAN LONG: So here behind us is the gate valve that blocksthe oil flow towards the river.

    • 28:46

      GREG PALAST: In February, a US government reportsaid that multiple conditions existon the pipeline that pose a risk to public safety, property,and the environment.

    • 28:57

      DAN LONG: You'd have to do continued maintenance.That costs money to fix that.What we're trying to do is stop the oilfrom getting into this river.Copper River is where the most expensive salmon from Alaska,and in the world, come from.And you can't-- the rivers flow so fast,

    • 29:17

      DAN LONG [continued]: you couldn't pick up any oil if you spilled it.So you can't afford to spill it.

    • 29:23

      GREG PALAST: Alyeska contests the government reportand told us that they carry out a thorough inspectionof the pipeline every three years, which exceedsthe regulatory requirements.In Prudhoe Bay, BP should have been monitoring it's pipeswith a piece of equipment called a PIG,a pipeline inspection gauge, a device

    • 29:44

      GREG PALAST [continued]: that travels inside the pipes.A software engineer who wrote programsfor the PIGs used in high risk areas, agreed to talk.Scared of upsetting the oil industry,he would only speak to me anonymously.

    • 29:60

      SPEAKER 6: PIGs are pipeline inspection devices.And they're electronic devices with feelerson the sides like this that run through the pipelineand can detect corrosion damage or dents by these feelers being

    • 30:20

      SPEAKER 6 [continued]: moved like that.So it gets sent through an it records all this dataand accumulates it.You have to take the pig data and compare itagainst what the regulations are for runningthat particular kind of pipeline.So, for example, if there's corrosion damage in natural gas

    • 30:40

      SPEAKER 6 [continued]: line and there's a risk of explosion, it's less of a riskif it's out in an open field or if it's in the downtown area.So the PIG data has to be run against these regulationsand these standards in order to correctly calculate the risk.

    • 30:59

      GREG PALAST: What is our classificationfor environmentally sensitive areas?

    • 31:03

      SPEAKER 6: No.The regulations do not cover any sort of environmental impact.And these regulations are freely available on the internetand public for anyone to see.What they concern themselves with is human activity.So just to give a brief overview of the regulations--

    • 31:27

      SPEAKER 6 [continued]: the lower classification covers open areaswhere there isn't much human activity.

    • 31:33

      GREG PALAST: But if it's in the Arctic and there'sjust a few Eskimo out there and some caribou?

    • 31:40

      SPEAKER 6: It's not considered a high risk, evenif the pipeline has corrosion.

    • 31:45

      GREG PALAST: So we had those pipe breaks in Prudhoe Bayon the gathering lines of BP, and they couldhave been caught by the PIGs.Is that the idea?

    • 31:53

      SPEAKER 6: Corrosion, dents, damage,could have been identified if pigswere run through the pipeline.But in running the pigs through these areas of the pipeline,it directly impacts the revenue and the amount of productthat they can deliver.Because in order to run a PIG through a given segment,the flow of oil needs to be shut down, in order to run the PIG

    • 32:16

      SPEAKER 6 [continued]: and perform the safety inspection.And then the oil can proceed.So, it costs them money to run the PIG.It costs money to purchase the PIG.And also cost them money in terms of lost revenue.

    • 32:30

      GREG PALAST: Diagnostic checks can cost upto a million dollars per mile of pipe.After the Prudhoe based spill, the US Environmental ProtectionAgency found that BP had not checked the integrityof its pipes for eight years.A US congressional committee claimed a mountain of evidenceshowed BPs cost cutting on maintenance

    • 32:50

      GREG PALAST [continued]: led to the spill in Alaska.BP said that other integrity checksare carried out as part of a corrosion management program.But it admitted that its Western transit line had not beensmart PIG'd for eight years.In the US, I discovered that BP is a serial offender.

    • 33:11

      GREG PALAST [continued]: But thanks to powerful friends like America's Wetlandand Alaska politicians, their progresshasn't been interrupted.The deep water ban has been lifted.And the Arctic is open for business.This is Azerbaijan, a police state in Central Asia,

    • 33:33

      GREG PALAST [continued]: known in the oil business as the Wild East.It may look like a wasteland, but it'swhat's underneath the ground thathas brought Western investors flocking into the country.Prince Andrew, seen here with the president's wifeand daughter, has made multiple tripsto the country in his role as Britain's ambassadorfor international trade and investment.

    • 33:54

      GREG PALAST [continued]: BP is the largest foreign investor.A third of the country's oil revenueis generated by the company.Their terminal here pumps nearly a million barrels of oil a dayalong a 1,000 mile pipe to the West.Like in Alaska, the pipeline is runby an operating company in which BP has the largest share.

    • 34:19

      GREG PALAST: Ah, it's Baba Aliyev, grandfatherof the country, and his pipes.This is BP's Sangachal terminal.Now, Azerbaijan is the Alaska of the Caspian.And Sangachal is its Valdez.But, unlike Alaska, the pipeline hereis completely buried, hidden, like everything else

    • 34:39

      GREG PALAST [continued]: in this country.I thought I'd take a closer look at BPs operation for myself.Within minutes of arriving, state securityswoops down on our crew.We're outside BPs perimeter fence,but although we have an official permission to film,

    • 35:02

      GREG PALAST [continued]: we're told to stop and hand over our passports.[INTERPOSING VOICES]We weren't crossing the fence.[INTERPOSING VOICES]It seems this government doesn't want journalists investigatingthe oil industry.We became their involuntary guests.Our translator, Khadijah, a well-known local journalistnegotiated as more state security officers

    • 35:23

      GREG PALAST [continued]: arrived to check our papers.

    • 35:25


    • 35:29

      GREG PALAST: Eventually, we were sprung after three hours.

    • 35:32

      KHADIJAH: It happens all the time.Journalist get detained or arrestedfor just filming in public places.Cameras get broken.It's routine practice here, so be careful.[DOGS BARKING]

    • 35:57

      GREG PALAST: This is one of the most polluted places on earth.Decades of oil production under the Sovietsturned much of the area into a toxic swamp.

    • 36:22

      GREG PALAST [continued]: Azerbaijan is not a democracy.It survives on the $26 billion a year it earns from oil.Pictures of the ruling Aliyev dynastyglared down on you everywhere.

    • 36:44

      GREG PALAST [continued]: And it's considered one of the world's most corrupt regimes.On the shores of the Caspian Sea,Azerbaijan's capital, Baku, sits atop a 7 billion barrel oilfield.But in 2008, disaster struck.A major blowout crippled BPs Caspian operation.

    • 37:07

      GREG PALAST [continued]: Over 200 workers were evacuated.It was only by chance that the gas did notignite like it did in the Gulf of Mexico 17 months later.BP described the incident as a gas leakand was vague about what had happened.Azerbaijan's oppressive regime makesreporting on BPs blowout almost impossible.

    • 37:32

      GREG PALAST [continued]: The company has not released its own internal reporton the accident.And has never publicly admitted there was a blowout.BP told us that safety systems in place worked correctly.And that it has shared the findings of its investigationinto the incident with the Azerbaijan government,regulators, and partners.

    • 37:55

      GREG PALAST [continued]: The country's ruling elite family took power after a coupin 1993.Azerbaijan had been enjoying its first democratic government.But it was weak and unsupported by the West.Heydar Aliyev, the former Soviet KGB chief,quickly asserted a brutal authority.His rise to power might not have been good for democracy

    • 38:16

      GREG PALAST [continued]: in the Caspian.But it worked out well for BP.A former political adviser to BP in Azerbaijan,now based in Berlin, has agreed to speak exclusively to us.He believes the company's successthere was thanks to the stability imposed by a Aliyev.

    • 38:39

      GREG PALAST [continued]: A conservative MP at the time, Harold Elletsonhas also worked for MI6.

    • 38:47

      HAROLD ELLETSON: BPs interest in material providedby the Secret Intelligence Service would have been quitesignificant and vice versa.And progressively, I think there would'vebeen an involvement in the provision of intelligencematerial to BP that would assist them in their objectives.

    • 39:13

      HAROLD ELLETSON [continued]: President Aliyev's coming to power meant that a deal couldbe made to stick.So, in that sense, it was in the BPs interests.And whether BP provided any adviceor had any involvement in that I don't know.But it was in their interests, I think,

    • 39:34

      HAROLD ELLETSON [continued]: as history has shown that present Aliyev shouldcome to power because that meant the deal couldbe made to stick.

    • 39:42

      GREG PALAST: We've tracked down a BP insider whoclaims he also helped to make that deal stickin the early '90s paying cash bribes to key figuresin the Azerbaijan government.Now living in Britain, Leslie Abrahamswas BPs deputy representative in Baku.He worked for them between 1992 and 94.

    • 40:04

      GREG PALAST [continued]: He agreed to speak for the first time on cameraabout what he claims was his real role at BP.So there was a certain point where you startedmaking payments to people.

    • 40:15

      LESLIE ABRAHAMS: Yeah, I took out $50,000, $100,000in [INAUDIBLE] from the office.And as things needed paid off, I paid them off.

    • 40:26

      GREG PALAST: Things payoff?What about people being paid off?

    • 40:29

      LESLIE ABRAHAMS: Yes, things and people.

    • 40:31

      GREG PALAST: How much went to paying off officials,entertaining officials, et cetera.

    • 40:36

      LESLIE ABRAHAMS: Probably at least two or three million.

    • 40:38

      GREG PALAST: Two or three million pounds?

    • 40:40


    • 40:41

      GREG PALAST: Abrahams' claims that the money wentto the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,the Ministry of Communications, and the Oil Ministry.You actually had-- did you yourself hand cash?

    • 40:51

      LESLIE ABRAHAMS: I'd hand them an envelop with the hundreddollar bills in it.

    • 40:54

      GREG PALAST: You'd hand them an envelope?

    • 40:55


    • 40:56

      GREG PALAST: How do you hand someonean envelope for $100 bills and explain it.I'm interested in that.I've never done it.I'd like to know.

    • 41:03

      LESLIE ABRAHAMS: It's the aides that I dealt with.So we would go off into a side, and anterior roomin the ministry.And I'd, sort of, pull it out of my briefcase.I'd just hand it over.

    • 41:14

      GREG PALAST: And what were some of the sums in those envelopes?

    • 41:17

      LESLIE ABRAHAMS: $10,000, $20,000, $30,000.

    • 41:20

      GREG PALAST: It was in BPs interest but did BP know?

    • 41:23

      LESLIE ABRAHAMS: Yes, BP knew about-- all thesewere accounting for as unreceipted expenses.And, we didn't detail what the expenses were.

    • 41:36

      GREG PALAST: While acting as BPs briber in chief,Azerbaijan plunged deeper into war with neighboring Armenia.Abrahams had something else to reveal.He told me that as the fighting intensified,he was greeted unexpected in his hotel roomby John Scarlett, MI6 chief at the Moscow embassy.

    • 41:57

      GREG PALAST [continued]: Abrahams claimed Scarlett asked him to spy for Britain in Baku.So the head of the Moscow station for MI6is asking you, in your job with BP,to spy on the Azeri military.

    • 42:13

      LESLIE ABRAHAMS: Yes, give feedback.Also, keep in contact with what was going onwithin the government, send them regular reports.

    • 42:22

      GREG PALAST: Troop movements, missiles, government--

    • 42:25

      LESLIE ABRAHAMS: Anything that was going on.

    • 42:26

      GREG PALAST: But at this time, youwere still making the payments.

    • 42:29

      LESLIE ABRAHAMS: Yes, they were constant.

    • 42:31

      GREG PALAST: And the payments were alsohelping you obtain information.

    • 42:36

      LESLIE ABRAHAMS: Yes, because I'dget to speak to senior aides or meetingswith government, pick up information,feed it back to John Scarlett.

    • 42:45

      GREG PALAST: How did you feel about beingenlisted and recruited?

    • 42:49

      LESLIE ABRAHAMS: BP works so closely with the government,that it was almost expected of you.

    • 42:54

      GREG PALAST: So, in effect, were youa spy for MI6 and a BP agent?

    • 43:01

      LESLIE ABRAHAMS: In effect.

    • 43:02

      GREG PALAST: When you filed reports for MI6,did BP already also see those reports?

    • 43:06

      LESLIE ABRAHAMS: Yes, I copied thoseto the senior management, too, and BP.

    • 43:10

      GREG PALAST: So the espionage informationwas going to BP and MI6.

    • 43:14

      LESLIE ABRAHAMS: MI6, yes.

    • 43:16

      GREG PALAST: One operation.

    • 43:17


    • 43:17

      GREG PALAST: Where was the British Embassy?

    • 43:20

      LESLIE ABRAHAMS: The British Embassy took a roomin the old city office of BP.One room, we gave it to them, free of charge.They installed secure communications,had the place swept, brought out their team to refurbish it.

    • 43:37

      GREG PALAST: So as far as the Azerbaijan governmentwas concerned, BP and the British governmentwere one thing?

    • 43:44

      LESLIE ABRAHAMS: Were integral, yes.

    • 43:45

      GREG PALAST: BP said that while therewere some facts in Abrahams' account that were accurate,they did not recognize most of it and regarded it as fantasy.In 1994, a BP-led consortium signed,what's become known as the contract of the century,an $8 billion 30-year deal and secured oil for the West

    • 44:08

      GREG PALAST [continued]: and big profits for BP.

    • 44:12

      HAROLD ELLETSON: Unfortunately, the world's oil resourcesand energy resources are not predominantly concentratedin liberal democracies.And what that means is you can either dealwith the reality of that situationand negotiate with people who you might not, for instance,care have around to tea with your mother.Or you can just reject it.

    • 44:34

      HAROLD ELLETSON [continued]: And if you reject it, then you'll be poor but honourable.And, I think most people would accept that we actuallyhave a firm, an interest in doing business.And that sometimes means we have to do businesswith people who we don't think are necessarilypolitically the most pleasant.But it's inevitable.

    • 44:56

      HAROLD ELLETSON [continued]: We have to recognize that BP is of huge significanceto the British economy and plays an enormous rolein ensuring that we can enjoy the standard of living that weperhaps take for granted.BP tax money pays for schools and hospitals.BP employs thousands of people.

    • 45:17

      HAROLD ELLETSON [continued]: I think it was of enormous benefit,not just to my constituents, but to everybody in the UnitedKingdom.Because what this resulted in-- and I played a part in it.But what it resulted in was a massive contract.So the benefit to the British taxpayer was colossal.

    • 45:37

      GREG PALAST: But not to most of the people who live there.Despite soaring oil revenue, government spendingon housing, hospitals, and schools has declined.Public services are increasingly starved of cash.But the strong man's son just bought a house in Dubaifor $44 million.Critics of the president are routinely arrested.

    • 46:01

      GREG PALAST [continued]: Down the road from BPs mega terminal,people who spoke to us complained that the oil boomhad brought them nothing.But almost no one was prepared to go on camera.

    • 46:12


    • 46:13

      GREG PALAST: They're afraid that they'llbe arrested if I talk to them?

    • 46:18

      SPEAKER 8: Yes, yes.

    • 46:21

      GREG PALAST: The strategic pipelinethat carries BPs oil here was partlyfinanced by British taxpayers.In July 1998, BPs then CEO, John Browne,met with Tony Blair and president Aliyevin Downing Street.Four months later, Browne said that the pipeline projectwould not make sense without free public money

    • 46:44

      GREG PALAST [continued]: from governments.And in 2003, Tony Blair's administrationagreed to guarantees of $150 millionand back further publicly-funded loans of another $250 million.

    • 46:58

      HAROLD ELLETSON: And Tony Blair, therewas a new government which was absolutely fixatedby BP, and by the oil industry, and by the connectionbetween oil and power.And they wanted and achieved a much closer connectionbetween the two.

    • 47:18

      GREG PALAST: So close that at least 17 senior figuresmoved between BP, new labor, and the civil service.George Robertson, defense secretary,became deputy chairman of TNK, BPs Russian subsidiary.Jeremy Greenstock, UK special representative in Iraq,became special advisor to BP.

    • 47:39

      GREG PALAST [continued]: and Anji Hunter, for four years Tony Blair's closest number10 advisor, moved on to BP as director of communications.Heading the other way, Terry Adams,president of BPs pipeline consortium in Azerbaijanbecame the Blair government's oil advisorto the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq.

    • 48:00

      GREG PALAST [continued]: And Martin Bryant, BP chief operating officer,moved to the home office as director of strategy.But it was in Libya where Tony Blair encountered, perhaps,the most significant player, Mark Allen, MI6s headof the Middle East and Africa.Allen successfully brokered talks between Blair and Qaddafi

    • 48:23

      GREG PALAST [continued]: that led to another massive BP oil deal.And then he joined BP as a special advisor.But the $900 million offshore oil and gas dealwas blocked by Qaddafi.It could only go ahead if the Libyan Lockerbiebomber, Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, was

    • 48:44

      GREG PALAST [continued]: released from jail in Scotland.So BP asked the Blair administrationto have Britain's worst mass murderer included in a prisonertransfer agreement.Diagnosed with terminal cancer, Megrahi was eventuallyreleased on unrelated compassionate groundsby the Scottish justice secretary.A report published this February by cabinet secretary Gus

    • 49:07

      GREG PALAST [continued]: O'Donnell found no evidence that BP put pressureon Scottish ministers to release Megrahi.But it concluded that BP successfully lobbied laborto have al-Megrahi added to the prisoner transfer agreement.And that government ministers in turnpressed the Libyans for progress on BPs major deal.The report also states that government policy

    • 49:30

      GREG PALAST [continued]: was based on an assessment that UK interests wouldbe damaged if Mr. Megrahi were to die in a UK jail.For former MI6 man, Harold Elletson,the fact that the government and BPwanted to alter an international treaty was a bridge too far.

    • 49:46

      HAROLD ELLETSON: You know, it's as fundamental, really,to the British constitution as free speech.If you can go and somehow get the biggest convictedmass murderer in British history releasedin order that a commercial company gets an oil contract,that is absolutely disgraceful.And that a British government should not only

    • 50:09

      HAROLD ELLETSON [continued]: connive in that but actually facilitateit is really disgraceful.And something that it is extraordinarythere hasn't been a massive public uproar over.

    • 50:24

      GREG PALAST: But at BPs final frontier,it's business as usual.Like their operations here in Alaska,they're controversial 60 billion barrel deal with the Russians,signed with the backing of the new coalition government,would see them drilling once again in oneof the most fragile and least accessible places on earth.

    • 50:46

      GREG PALAST [continued]: And once again governed by a regime notoriousfor its hostility to the free press.The truth is BP has a permanent licenseto drill signed and sealed by the British government and MI6.[OMINOUS MUSIC PLAYING]

BP - In Deep Water

View Segments Segment :


Journalist Greg Palast traces BP's history back through the Deepwater Horizon disaster, the Exxon-Valdez oil spill, and the release of the Lockerbie bomber. He talks to engineers, politicians, lobbyists, and past and present BP employees about the company's business practices. He also points to the company's habits of secrecy and espionage.

BP - In Deep Water

Journalist Greg Palast traces BP's history back through the Deepwater Horizon disaster, the Exxon-Valdez oil spill, and the release of the Lockerbie bomber. He talks to engineers, politicians, lobbyists, and past and present BP employees about the company's business practices. He also points to the company's habits of secrecy and espionage.

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