Colonialism, however, eventually collapsed but BP did not (Heiss, 1997). Indeed, not only did BP survive the collapse of colonialism but it expanded its global operations, effectively maintained its status as one of the world's top oil and gas multinationals. In recent years, however, BP's status was threatened by industrial accidents which, consequent to their detrimental environmental effects, turned public opinion against the company. Survival, evidenced in the fact that it did re-bounce, was predicated on the successful revamping of BP's image.
With the dawn of the new millennium, British Petroleum's problems reached the point of crisis. Its environmental and human rights records were placed in the spotlight and subjected to public scrutiny, with the outcome being that in both 2001 and 2006, BP was named as one of the world's worst corporations (Cameron, 2006). Allegations, the majority of which were substantiated and incontrovertibly factual, encompassed of BP's poor environmental record, its abuse of its own employees, its support of totalitarian governments for its own financial gain and the exploitation of the public's dependency on oil and gas for the expansion of its profit margins.
Accusations pertaining to abuse of its labour force focus on the Tex...
gh price in 2005 when a large column overfilled with gas, leading to the formation of a vapour cloud and, eventually, an explosion which killed 15 employees, injured several others and destroyed a significant percentage of the plant itself. More independent and internal investigations placed the blame squarely on BP, focusing on mismanagement and lack of regard for worker and environmental safety as evidence in its failure to maintain the plant and implement the minimum required safety standards (Cameron, 2006).
Prior to recovering from the Texas City Refinery Disaster, BP confronted an environmental disaster in Prudhoe bay, Alaska, fording the closure of its pipelines there. In 2006, corrosion in its pipeline led to the spilling of 5,000 barrels of oil into the environment (Cameron, 2006). At this point, part of, but not all of the pipeline was closed. In 2007, a second disaster forced the closure of much of the remaining operational sections of the pipeline. Again, the cause was cited as BP's failure to adequately invest in safety and maintenance. It is interesting to note that in 2006 BP admitted to the fact that it had contributed to the degradation of the Alaskan natural environment through seepages which totaled approximately 27,000 barrels of oil (BP,' n.d.).
The fallout of BP's seemingly callous attitude towards worker safety and the environment, were only exacerbated by its support of totalitarian and abusive governments for the purpose of maintaining corporate profits. In 2006, BP lost a lawsuit launched against it by Columbian farmers who accused the company of supporting an openly abusive regime for the purpose of maintaining its pipeline operations in the country. A similar accusation was made by the West Papua population which accused BP of