Shock and Awe

The chairmen of four of the world’s largest oil companies broke their nearly two-month silence on the major spill in the Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday and publicly blamed BP for mishandling the well that caused the disaster.

OK, ha ha, well, sure, we can all understand the impulse. But are they sure they are really so different?

Although most of the Congressional fire was aimed at BP on Tuesday, the other executives came under criticism as well, particularly for the response plans that they prepared for a major spill in the gulf. The five companies submitted virtually identical plans to government regulators and to the committee. The 500-page document, prepared by a private contractor, refers to measures to protect walruses and gives a phone number for a marine biologist who died five years ago.

James J. Mulva, chief executive of ConocoPhillips, said the citations were “certainly an embarrassment to Conoco,” adding, “Plans need to be updated more frequently.”

From Oil Executives Break Ranks in Testimony.

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