BeePee efficiency czar FUBAR

As the spill heads towards the Florida Keys and Miami The Daily Beast has a pop at Deficit Hawk Dave's new efficiency czar in July Fourth Outrage: British Gov't Elevates Disgraced BP Boss
The U.K. government has appointed former BP chief Lord Browne as its new efficiency czar. Tom Bower on the extraordinary insult of promoting the man who bears huge responsibility for the Gulf oil crisis.

The British government appointed Lord Browne, the former CEO of BP, as a new “super-director” to cut waste and increase the efficiency of the British government machine in Whitehall. The announcement of Browne’s appointment was delayed while officials weighed the consequences of inevitable controversy. Browne is widely blamed for the drastic cuts of BP’s safety and maintenance program of its oil installations in the U.S. while he was BP’s CEO between 1998 and 2007. The consequence of those cuts were three major accidents in the U.S.—an explosion at the Texas City refinery in 2005, two oil spills in Alaska in 2006; and the current catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico. Adamantly, Browne has refused to discuss his responsibility for the Gulf crisis. He is undoubtedly relieved that the British government decided to ignore the allegations about his culpability and promote him to a senior position. Ever since he was forced to abruptly retire from BP after signing an untruthful court statement about his gay relationship with a young Canadian, he has struggled to restore his reputation as the “Sun King.”

Small, dapper, and authoritarian, Browne transformed BP from a dying oil corporation in the early 1990’s into the world’s second largest oil behemoth. By re-focusing BP on “elephants”—the big oil reservoirs—and ruthlessly cutting costs, his mastery of financial engineering used BP’s rising share price to stage audacious takeovers of failing oil companies, especially Arco and Amoco in America. BP flourished by consistently discovering new reserves to replenish the oil it was extracting. His stint at BP showed he was the master of so-called efficiency savings and self-publicity. In a speech at Stanford, he re-branded BP as “Beyond Petroleum”—the world’s most environmentally friendly oil company. The re-labelling was condemned by many environmentalists as a cynical ruse but, with the help of lobbyists and donations to Congressmen and senators, Browne won praise in Washington as a pathfinder for the oil industry and, unusually, a CEO who could be trusted.

In reality, behind BP’s new sunburst logo, some insiders were railing against an increasingly putrid organization. Unwilling to tolerate their criticism, Browne ruthlessly removed talented executives and potential rivals who threatened to prematurely inherit his crown. What remained were “the turtles,” the sycophants trusted by Browne to carry his burden and unquestioningly deliver his ambition. Tony Hayward ranked among the chosen ones, as did Robert Dudley, the new American supremo.

Cutting costs was Browne’s obsession. His philosophy was ‘More for less”—100 percent of a task would be completed at a cost of only 90 percent of the previous resources. Targets became his Gospel. On July 11, 2000, he announced that BP’s production would annually grow over three years by 5.5 percent to 7 percent, mostly in the Gulf of Mexico and Angola. In fact, growth never exceeded 2.9% and skilled oil men resigned rather than worship Browne’s impossible dream. Among them was Doug Ford, the ex-Amoco executive responsible for refineries including Texas City. Ford was appalled by Browne’s confrontational challenges to cut costs accompanied by the unspoken threat: “You’d better deliver.” Meetings with Browne were characterized by Al Kozinski, also an ex-Amoco refinery specialist as “a clash of big egos.” Browne expected clicking of heels in obedience rather than measured discussion. He ignored warnings about the consequences of his draconian cuts. Along with hundreds of BP’s engineers, Ford and Kozinski resigned and were replaced by a Browne “turtle,” John Manzoni, an accountant who zealously pruned safety and maintenance costs. The first casualties were 15 sub-contractors killed at an explosion in Texas City. A US government report blamed “systemic lapses” by BP’s management and budget cuts which knowingly left at Texas City “unsafe and antiquated designs…in place, and unacceptable deficiencies in preventive maintenance were tolerated.”

Although he paid lip-service to investing in maintenance, Browne rejected the criticism and continued to replace BP’s engineers with sub-contractors. Just as ExxonMobil was hiring engineers because “drilling is the core of our business,” Browne was ditching BP’s in-house expertise which could second-guess every technical operation on land and under the sea. Farming-out saved money but changed BP’s culture. Instead of specializing in oil engineering—needed to minutely supervise the sub-contractors working on Deep Horizon in the Gulf—Brown pursued financial engineering to fulfil his ambition: to overtake ExxonMobil and transform BP into the world’s biggest oil corporation. His goal could only be realised if BP’s high profits sustained a record share price to grease a merger with Shell. He was betting the house on beating his competitors.

Despite the condemnation of Browne by the U.S. government’s regulator in Texas, he approved Manzoni’s continued cut backs on maintenance in Alaska—even abolishing the employees annual lobster feast. When oil burst through a corroded pipeline, Browne pleaded honest apologies but Congressional investigators unearthed negligence and even suppression of the evidence. In London, Peter Sutherland, BP’s highly respected Irish chairman, was exasperated by Browne’s behaviour and suspicious of his excuses. He wanted Browne out but the wily executive had made the appointment of a suitable replacement impossible. No one of real aptitude had been left standing after Browne’s cull. The hapless Tony Hayward who inherited the poisoned legacy was never suitable to repair the damage which inevitably led to the explosion one mile beneath the Gulf’s waters.

Since his retirement, Browne published, Beyond Business: An Inspirational Memoir From a Visionary Leader. So far the British, with bizarrely civilized manners, have not damned Browne for his “vision.” Instead, the government has promoted him to deploy the same skills for Britain as he applied to BP.
A disgraced, tiny martinet, fond of surrounding himself with cherubic sycophants, whose short sighted cheese pairing policy direction may have wrecked BeePee, made a big dent in the UK's GDP and seriously Browned off our most valued ally. Some may think this a bizarre appointment, the sort of jaw dropping mistake only made by deranged private sector fetishists given to snorting too much coke off rent boys arses.

It's actually an act of refined Etonian genius. What better wrecking ball rapidly reduce Whitehall to Somalian standards of effectiveness? Heckuva of a job Brownie!
So this Lord Browne fella is responsible for TransOcean managing to blow one of its rigs up?
The article is horseshit, just more American demonisation of BP and all those associated with it.

TransOcean and Haliburton are responsible for the Gulf of Mexico mess.


jagman said:
TransOcean and Haliburton are responsible for the Gulf of Mexico mess.
Filling all the void spaces on the Horizon with seawater didn't help matters...........
In the DM Lord Browne's former male escort lover assists case against BP
David Cameron’s new ‘cost-cut tsar’ faced embarrassment last night after it was revealed that his former male escort lover was helping a campaigning American lawyer to assemble a legal case against him.
Lord Browne of Madingley, the ex-chief executive of BP, is at the centre of litigationin the United States alleging that cost cutting made while he was in charge of the oil giant led to disasters such as the recent Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Last week it was announced that Lord Browne, 62, was being placed in chargeof finding the first wave of £6.2billion public spending cuts promised in the Budget.

It is his most high-profile job since being forced to resign from BP in 2007 after being caught lying to the High Court about his Canadian lover, Jeff Chevalier.

During their four-year relationship, Mr Chevalier enjoyed dinners with a
number of high-ranking politicians, including Tony Blair, and was privy to highly sensitive company details.

Now Brent Coon, a Texan lawyer who is levelling a raft of actions against BP, has contacted Mr Chevalier to ask him to help prove that cost-cutting during Lord Browne’s time in charge led to fatal safety lapses.

Mr Coon has already mounted actions against BP over an explosion at a Texas refinery in 2005 which killed 14 workers.

He forced the firm to release documents detailing cost-cutting at the plant during Lord Browne’s time as chief executive, which were ruled to be a factor in the disaster. BP was later forced to pay more than $2billion compensation.
Now Mr Coon is focusing on the explosion at the company’s Deepwater Horizon rig in April, which has caused the worst environmental crisis in US history
A fondness for unreliable Canadian rent is hardly a remarkable eccentricity among todays English Haute Bourgeois but elsewhere in the paper they refer to the BeePee's preening "Sun King" as a "Labour Lovie". Doubt he'll last long under this sort of vigorous tongue lashing from a Daily Male gagging with outrage.

The FT mounts some sort of rear guard action. I mean what's wrong with having an "opulent personal style", all your office furniture designed by Viscount Linley while cutting back on maintenance costs on oil infrastructure that's lethally going pop way above industry norms?

Actually boasted about spending on $200 million on re-branding stuffy old Union Jack draped British Petroleum to a lovely green tree hugging company that was Beyond Petroleum. It was all mouth and no eco trousers, very silly. That brand is now toxic waste in the US i.e. where it matters. I think some adorable chairs and a 200-page "Reputation Manual" spun together by Ogilvy & Mather is just what Whitehall needs.

Hayward's mandate at BeePee was to be “not Lord Browne” to break the culture of cutting back to the bone on operating costs to produce a shareholder pleasing bottom line. It seems he actually repaired much of the damage done to safety procedures but failed, the insidious ‘Every dollar counts’ cult survived. When it hit the fan all he could do was try to deflect the blame knowing full well BeePee was the permit holder committed to cleaning up an impossible 250,000 bpd.
Can somebody help me here, wtf has the ex-chairman of BP got to do with the current situation?


Book Reviewer
Because, allegedly, Brandy, Browne ran a drive against costs which cut down on BP's safety culture.

However for me the main objection to his being given any job by any reputable Govt is that he is a proven liar.
BrandySoured said:
Can somebody help me here, wtf has the ex-chairman of BP got to do with the current situation?
The guy who ran the company from 95-07 is more at fault than Hayward. All was going swimmingly under Browne's swashbuckling management, BeePee's demanding shareholders were fat and happy as he played the game up to the brink. Then in 05 his luck ran out and it all started to fall apart. There was the Texas explosion, the Alaska spill and they got a massive fine for trying to rig the propane market. He was gone within two years. An oil company like any big organization changes slowly, this looks like half a decade of chickens coming home to roost after the bean counting Browne boom years. The spill is just Nemesis's coup de grace.

The FT has the full story here.

You could see this as rather like Deficit Hawk Dave who may soon be blamed for tipping the UK economy into the second deeper dip of the recession but was set up to fail by his longer serving predecessor's short sighted, bottom line fixated, lack of prudence.
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