BP lubricates the wheels of the Interwebs

Reuters reports that the much maligned oil company BP (which stands for “British Petroleum”, in case you didn’t know), has been buying up terms such as “oil spill” from search engine providers including Google. The effect of this manipulation is to direct users to BP’s website before others, especially those critical of the company’s handling of an environmental catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico caused by the continuing rupture of one of its undersea oil wells.

In a display of gall that competes with that of BP chief executive Tony (“I want my life back”) Hayward, a company spokesman explained…

“We know people are looking for those terms on our website and we’re just trying to make it easier for them to get directly to those terms.”

I must say that’s most helpful and considerate of BP. Would that other multinational corporations be so solicitous toward the general public.

Hayward was recently in the news after downplaying the ecological impact of the oil spill, to which, in an interview conducted by Evan Davis on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Florida-based oceanographer Ian MacDonald reacted caustically…

“This Tiny Hayward person, this head of BP, is he a lord or a duke or a knight? My knowledge of aristocracy is pretty vague… So where does he sit in your firmament, Lord Tiny Hayward?”

I heard this live on a Saturday morning, while rising slowly and blearily after a particularly heavy night on the sauce. It was Radio 4 at its absolute best.

Hayward is actually a humble state grammar school boy from the Slough of Despond in the commuter belt west of London, who went on to get a doctorate in geology before turning his hand to business mismanagement. The example of Hayward goes to show that any idiot can get a PhD.

Anyways, matters have gone from bad to worse for the benighted BP, with the company refusing to acknowledge the seriousness of the problem in the Gulf. Hayward and his colleagues are currently rallying shareholders, industry insiders and pension fund managers whose fortunes depend on oil industry profits to argue in BP’s defence at every opportunity, even to the level of bitch-slapping the President of the United States of America.

Quite extraordinary.