As the costs of Gulf Coast cleanup efforts from the BP oil spill continue to rise, a new report examines the industry as a whole, in terms of safety and accident records. The international environmental education and resource group Global Exchange has found that operating errors and incidents around the globe are more common than the public likely realizes because most events don't make the news. According to report lead author Antonia Juhasz, accessing information about environmental and cultural damage connected to oil production is difficult. "It is the wealthiest industry the world has ever known, it is technologically complex, it is very politically influential, and it is very difficult to get our arms around it."
Chevron is the front-page feature of the report – in part, because Johasz's organization and others plan to confront Chevron shareholders at a May 26 meeting. There, she says, they will claim another Gulf disaster is likely because oil companies in the area, including Chevron, lack disaster plans. "Chevron is unique in many of the ways that it operates, in its attitudes toward its operations, but of course, as we have seen it is also emblematic of the problems of the broader industry." A Chevron spokesman said this week that the one of the company's core values is the safety of employees, contractors and neighbors.
Chevron experienced an oil rig fire and well collapse in the Gulf of Mexico in 2008, and chose to seal the site and abandon production because of the dangers. The report is online at www.truecostofchevron.com . A panel of U.S. and international experts also meets May 25 in Houston, Texas, to discuss oil company accidents and their effects.