Thursday 18th of April 2024

exxtort .....

for the “flim-flam” maxine ……

Oil Price Increase
Prompts Inflation Fears - 7:30 Report

Oil prices driven up by supply
issues, demand issues, speculation, the Iran crisis, global warming, 4 wheel
drive purchases, inclement weather, the untimely death of Kerry Packer, the UN
oil-for-food scandal, Brokeback Mountain, junior’s “war on terra”, Easter &
of course, my old Aunt Mary’s oil heater.


Maybe in today’s instant, sleight-of-hand
world of economic confusion & mayhem, old maxims don’t hold true? 

But I was always taught that if
you want to understand what’s driving a particular issue, you just need to FOLLOW

Over the period 2000-2004, the US
Oil Industry recorded average annual profits (in 2005 dollars) of US$24.3

In 2005, the US Oil Industry
racked-up profits of US$96 billion, an increase of 300%, with the world’s
largest oil producer, Extort, making US$36.1 billion alone. It’s called RACKETEERING. 

A lazy 10 minutes on the net
would allow the 7:30 Report’s intrepid investigative team to confirm that the
rest of the world’s oil majors have also recorded similar miraculous
improvements in their profit performances. 

Surely this would be a better use
of their time than forcing us to endure the high-falutin’ but totally
meaningless gobble-de-gook sprouted by our friendly AMP “economist”, Shane
Oliver, or the prescient insights of “petroleum engineer”, DeWayne Travelstead? 

Your intrepid investigators could
also verify that, whilst our very own federal pricing “watchdog” (pun
unintended) runs around explaining that it can do “nuffinck” about fuel prices,
it confirmed late last year that oil company refining margins had jumped 143%,
from US$7 per barrel to US$17 per barrel – I wonder if that contributed to the
upsurge in profits at all? 

But then it would surely be
unfair to just vent our spleens on the profiteering oil majors? 

Remember that, whilst our amazing
federal political protectors are wringing their hands in sympathetic but
helpless anxiety, federal excise revenues have risen by A$4.5 billion (45%) in
just 3 years to A$14.5 billion, whilst the GST take has risen by almost A$2.0
billion (83%) in the same period, all on incremental fuel consumption. 

All up, our federal government
has pocketed an extra A$8.5 billion in excise taxes over the past 3 years on
the back of steadily increasing fuel consumption. 

And on the subject of
sleight-of-hand, remember that “Cossie” takes 38.5 cents on every litre of fuel
sold going in & then another 30 cents on every dollar of profit generated:
what a nice little earner that is. 

And some wonder where the
embarrassing Budget surplus comes from: but not the 7:30 Report. 

So, when it comes to the world’s
greatest scam, the 7:30 Report managed to add nothing to the understanding of
Australian consumers about that fact: let alone who the perpetrators are. 

Good one Maxine.

Best to avert the gaze

I'm with Maxine on this one, JR. Otherwise, rational thought would lead one pretty quickly to wonder about the purpose of neo-cons' waving the teatowel at Iran. Couple that with the popularity of Urban Assault Vehicles in the McMansion suburbs, and you have a conundrum. But this, too, will pass. Like with Rumsfeld, or any other desiccated turd, the forces of nature will have their flushable way. The sooner the Bushitos get on with Iran, the sooner our pump prices will head back toward three shillings a gallon. That's what Steve Forbes reckons, anyhow. Look on it as a hygienic cleansing.

How on earth can journos maintain an equitable lifestyle, and heap shit on Labor for the "politics of envy", if they do not do what they are bid? It's all cash-for-comment, even at the reconstructed ABC.

Howard is about a hair's breadth away from planting another seed of disquiet, along the lines of - "how would we like a houseful of several Papuan refugee families next door?". Locking up a few token brown kiddies is the shortest route to BHP wealth. That's a fair price to pay, because pollies and journos have their super to consider.

I believe it's quite pleasant in Hell, this time of year.

being ironic .....?

Hi Gus.

I'm not sure what you mean by "being with Maxine" .....

My point was that her program aired a pile of useless disinformation, whilst avoiding & protecting from scrutiny the most obvious driver of fuel prices: oil industry profiteering. Couple that with the rodent's efforts on excise & gst & no wonder everyone is paying through the nose.

Further to that, I don't want to see ABC programs that are based on superficial or incomplete analysis, regardless of what our politics might be: we may as well just tune-in to West Wing & be dumbed-down completely. By that I mean that I think it would be terrific if higher fuel prices succeeded in driving down consumption but not if those prices are driven by acts of deliberate fraud & theft, incuding that engineered by the government.

Or were you being ironic? 

Sorry John

This one is with TG Kerr, nothing to do with me (Gus)... But I think that TG was being ironic... I didn't watch Maxine talk about the price of petrol since I was myself filling the car up to the cap-hole for the bargain price of an expensive bottle of French champagne...

But of course the pump price is manipulated by the producers, the refiners, the suppliers and may I add the consumers, as well as the government that collect excises and tax.

The producers inflate their production beyond their reserves-ratio by cheating on the estimates. They also twiddle the price by cartel selling as well as push as high as what would be acceptable to the "market" without blowing it up. There is a cosy arrangement between them and the big players on the "market" who know they can recoup their cost with fantastic ease since everyone in the world now is a slave of the petrol outlet...

The refiners know there is limited reserve of the stuff — although they don't want to panic the consumer about it — so they do not want to invest in new refining capacity, which would blow their massive profits by a few percentage points, and they want to maximise their profits all the way till the last drop. Profiteering?...

The suppliers/shippers are victims of the price at their own petrol at the pump... it is thus more expensive to deliver the black gold.

The consumers (including car manufacturers) want more and more of the stuff as if there were an endless supply, but we can guess that within 40 years there may be two drops left unless replaced by biofuel and recycled cooking oil.

The government is beaming all the way to the bank as excises and taxes are pegged to the retail price...

Watch the price of crude go through the roof of 100 to 140 bucks a barrel if Bonsai decide to nuke Iran... Beyond that it's a blindfolded economist's dart game to guess the next size of the move... But it can only go up...

Some things are certain:
The price of petrol won't go down in the medium and long term, ever again.
The price of gold will hit new highs through small valleys and high peak.
The price of uranium shares will go bonzer.
Inflation will stay flatish because more of our goods will come from China.
The Primal Grocer will pat himself on the back for keeping inflation down, being an illusion bought on credit on the future of the next generation.
Most workers will earn around 20 % less than before.
Everyone will be so busy earning a crust they won't even notice...
The price of educating kids will soon go up 30 %.
The price of health care will soon go up 30% and be less universal.
The rich will get richer and the poor will stay poor or go poorer still — but their plight will be a question of proportion of public social equity versus charitable private hand outs.

And there will be more forests cut down, more whales harvested, less wildlife around, more extinct species... there will be a fast increase in global warming but our leaders will say that it's not their fault since we voted for them... And of course if Iran is bombed, the security of whatever will be a bit more precarious... June this year is the deadline to wake up from this warmish soup we are swimming "comfortably" in...

Beyond irony

Sorry (like hell!) about another irruption, chaps. 

These are good -

Washington Post: A Campaign Gore Can't Lose
Paul Krugman: Enemy of the Planet - that's pay-for-view, so here's the last three pars:

... But the fake research works for its sponsors, partly because it gets picked up by right-wing pundits, but mainly because it plays perfectly into the he-said-she-said conventions of "balanced" journalism. A 2003 study, by Maxwell Boykoff and Jules Boykoff, of reporting on global warming in major newspapers found that a majority of reports gave the skeptics — a few dozen people, many if not most receiving direct or indirect financial support from Exxon Mobil — roughly the same amount of attention as the scientific consensus, supported by thousands of independent researchers.

Has Exxon Mobil's war on climate science actually changed policy for the worse? Maybe not. Although most governments have done little to curb greenhouse gases, and the Bush administration has done nothing, it's not clear that policies would have been any better even if Exxon Mobil had acted more responsibly.

But the fact is that whatever small chance there was of action to limit global warming became even smaller because Exxon Mobil chose to protect its profits by trashing good science. And that, not the paycheck, is the real scandal of Mr. Raymond's reign as Exxon Mobil's chief executive.

Maybe one of our major dailies will re-run the article in full, eh? Har-har, that's a good one! 

If I may continue to wander about, The Age gave a bit of publicity to the (newly re-configured) People Power political movement. I reckon these independents could hold the key to good government over the next decade or two.  

And, since several of the main issues are global, we need to keep in touch with independent candidates in elections overseas, like Coleen Rowley for the US Congress this year.

The big question, though, is whether any of this can beat Tom Cruise's baby and Michelle's underwear off the front page. I'm tipping Maxine to model the underwear tonight.

Planet included

Al Gore on Global warming? Not a chance of beating the Tom Cruise babe on the front page of our entertainment rations... Reality and culture are dying, well they are dead... Let's sing vacuously to the drum beat of dumb electronic machines while speeding...

Yes, entertainment is here, to illuse our minds away from the reality that present profits are mana to our incoming destruction, planet included. We don't want to know, do we?

maxine .....

Red-faced, pulling foot from mouth ....

At least I didn't call you "Maxine" Gus.

Agree with all your observations.


chasing underwear .....

Maxine modelling underwear …. you
sure know how to scare a bloke T.G. 

On your “wandering about” items, Michael
Pascoe from Crikey visited the Paul Krugman article today: see below. 

Paul Krugman fingers the 60 greenhouse sceptics 

Michael Pascoe writes: 

‘Yesterday's subscriber comments show greenhouse believers top even
cyclists and aerial ping pong fans for provocability. Unlike the other faiths
though, the global warmists have Paul Krugman on their side. 

Krugman's New
York Times
(subscription) on Monday may have fingered a source
of Christian Kerr's 60 Canadian greenhouse sceptics – Exxon Mobil. Krugman
launched into the oil giant and its former CEO, Lee Raymond, claiming Raymond
turned the company into an “enemy of the planet”, a worse environmental villain
than other big oil companies. 

The attack wasn't merely for selling a lot of hydrocarbons or giving
the occasional Alaskan sea gull an oil bath, but for fighting the science that
suggests the warming thing is on. Krugman says that when the greenhouse science
was less convincing, major oil companies and kindred souls were members of a
body called the Global Climate Coalition, whose aim was to oppose any limits on
producing alleged greenhouse gases. 

As the evidence began to mount, many companies, including BP and Shell,
conceded something needed to be done and dropped out of the coalition – but
Exxon decided to fight the science. Krugman:

A leaked memo from a 1998 meeting at the American
Petroleum Institute, in which Exxon was a participant, describes a strategy of
providing "logistical and moral support" to climate change
dissenters, "thereby raising questions about and undercutting the 'prevailing
scientific wisdom'. "

And that's just what Exxon Mobil has done:
lavish grants have supported a sort of alternative intellectual universe of
global warming sceptics. The people and institutions Exxon Mobil supports
aren't actually engaged in climate research. They're the real-world equivalents
of the Academy of Tobacco Studies in the movie Thank You for Smoking,
whose purpose is to fail to find evidence of harmful effects.

But the fake research works for its sponsors, partly because it gets picked up
by right-wing pundits, but mainly because it plays perfectly into the
he-said-she-said conventions of "balanced" journalism. A 2003 study,
by Maxwell Boykoff and Jules Boykoff, of reporting on global warming in major
newspapers found that a majority of reports gave the sceptics – a few dozen
people, many if not most receiving direct or indirect financial support from
Exxon Mobil – roughly the same amount of attention as the scientific consensus,
supported by thousands of independent researchers.

It was certainly a rewarding exercise for Raymond anyway.
Exxon paid him US$686 million over his 13 years at the top.’  

(Krugman’s full piece can
be viewed here Enemy of
the Planet

and Stephen Mayne shared his
insights on the subject of people power …..

People Power registered -- now for mission impossible 

By Stephen Mayne, Australia's most
unsuccessful candidate

and The
both carried stories this morning on the putative political
start-up People Power and
yours truly got mentioned in passing. The Oz said I was the co-founder
of the party, but that was of its stillborn 2001 version, not the latest

The AEC last week finally announced
that People Power has been registered as a political party, something earlier
versions didn't achieve. This means the party will be eligible for those
outrageously juicy $1500 tax donations once the current legislation receives
royal assent next month. 

I've got a contract with Crikey until September and won't be making any
final decisions about a serious crack at the Victorian election until then,
hence the reluctance to participate in any mainstream media discussion about
the project. As a media tart, it was not easy knocking back interviews with ABC
702 and 2UE this morning, but you can't be a commentator and a political
spokesperson at the same time – and besides, no definitive commitment has been

However, the introduction of proportional representation in the
Victorian upper house means that anyone who gets a primary vote of 5% in the
eight new regions is seriously in the race for the fifth and final spot. After
all, good preference flows delivered Family First the sixth and final Victorian
senate spot with a primary vote of just 2%. 

As things stand at the moment, the demise of the Democrats means the
Greens are likely to emerge with the balance of power in Victoria's Legislative
Council, although Family First will be in the mix. 

People Power founder and President Vern Hughes is talking big about
running in all 88 lower house seats and 8 upper house regions – but there is a
history of over-promising and under-delivering, so some hard-headed realism
about the enormity of the project is needed this time around. 

The challenge is to put together a credible team of candidates that can
finance a $250,000 campaign – the bare minimum required for one decent flyer
and the all-important how to vote cards on polling day. 

The Age's story
about a former Labor Party mayor of Whitehorse, Peter Allan, running for People
Power on a no pokies platform is the first shot at what will probably be a
minor party auction for the anti-gambling vote in the wake of Nick Xenophon's
stunning 21.5% state-wide primary vote in the recent South Australia election. Gabi Byrne, a former
pokies addict turned anti-gambling crusader, has also announced she's standing
for People Power in Eastern Victoria. 

There's also speculation about Jack Reilly, a former deputy secretary
of the Victorian Treasury and socceroo goal keeper at the 1974 World Cup, but a
few names hardly amounts to 96 candidates state-wide. 

At People Power's core is a constituency comprising carers and people
with physical and mental health disabilities, and this draft policy
is now being circulated to other would-be candidates. 

It's certainly tempting, but political start-ups in stable and
prosperous democracies are very hard to get off the ground, so we'll have to
wait and see if this latest attempt gains any traction, let alone the balance
of power in Victoria's upper house after 25 November. That prize is most likely
to go to the Greens – the first time they'll have held such power on the
Australian mainland.’

And don’t forget Maxine
tonight ….

Petrol futures

In my last comments "sorry John" and "planet included" in this line of blog, I forgot to bring to the fore the possibility that petrol stocks are being bought ahead of time in order to prevent China making the price go up even more as its energy demands grows by 30 or so percent every year... This could be a curly idea and a complex study of who's supplying who and at what price... I would not be surprised if the Chinese are not too worried for the immediate future... They might be buying oil from Russia at a well discounted price for cheaper goods than what we pay here... I don't know the reality here but there are serious questions to be asked... That could be a scenario, slightly outside the square, but it wouldn't save the planet either...

playing around the edges .....

Yes Gus, a lot of people,
including our deceitful politicians, have made a lot out of growing demand for
oil by both China & India & the pressures this is placing on the global
markets ie: fuel availability & prices. 

But we need to look at facts, not
hyperbole, particularly where politicians are involved. They are all too ready
to try & deflect their own failure to adequately manage issues or even
their readiness to capitalize on them (as our government does), given half the

Global oil consumption is running
at 81 million barrels per day. 

China currently consumes only 6.5
million barrels a day (8% of global consumption) & satisfies 50% of its
needs from domestic sources. China’s consumption is growing at around 10% per
annum & is projected to reach 14 million barrels per day by 2025. 

India currently consumes only 2
million barrels a day (2.5% of global consumption & slightly more than double Australia's daily consumption) but imports almost 75% of
its requirements. Its consumption growth is lower than China, albeit off a
lower base, but is projected to grow to 5 million barrels a day by 2020. 

So currently, China & India
together, supporting a total population of 2.4 billion souls (37% of the global
population of 6.5 billion souls) currently consume 8.5 million barrels of oil
per day (10.5% of global consumption), projected to grow to 20 million barrels
per day in the next 15 to 20 years. 

A great 2005 Newsweek article
gives more detail on both China & India, but more particularly some of the
investment initiatives that China is pursuing for alternative energy sources - China
and India: A Rage for Oil
& another interesting article - India Joins The
Scramble For Oil

But contrast the China / India
numbers with the US. 

With a population of 297 million
souls (4.6% of the world’s population) the US consumes 20 million barrels of
oil per day (24.7% of global consumption), of which 12 million barrels (60%) is
imported, with almost half of that volume coming from the middle east. Almost
50% of US oil consumption goes on motor vehicles. 

US oil consumption growth is much
lower than countries like China, currently running at 2% per annum, but off an
obviously higher base. US oil consumption is currently projected to grow to 35
million barrels per day by 2025, of which 24 million barrels (68%) will be

So, right now, the US is
consuming oil at a level that China & India combined won’t consume for
another 15 – 20 years, by which time the US will have increased its own
consumption by 75%, unless something is done to curb demand. 

Even if oil consumption by the
rest of the planet stayed at current levels, increased US demand alone would
drive up global consumption by 19% in the next 20 years. 

(And we shouldn’t forget the
carbon emissions that shadow those consumption patterns - it works a little like the obesity / diabetes graph.) 

There is a great article on the
entire subject of US oil consumption, containing some terrific insights, here -
Oil & Ethics: American
Energy Consumption & Entitlement Egoism

Another, even better article,
called What They
Don't Want You To Know About The Coming Oil Crisis
makes some fascinating
observations on US consumption, in particular in the area of motor vehicles. 

“The US government could wipe
out the need for all their 5 million barrels (of imported oil), and staunch the
flow of much blood in the process, by requiring its domestic automobile
industry to increase the fuel efficiency of autos and light trucks by a mere
2.7 miles per gallon.  

But instead it allows General Motors and the rest to build
ever more oil-profligate vehicles. Some sports utility vehicles (SUVs) average
just four miles per gallon. The SUV market share in the US was 2 per cent in
1975. By 2003 it was 24 per cent. In consequence, average US vehicle fuel
efficiency fell between 1987 and 2001, from 26.2 to 24.4 miles per gallon. This
at a time when other countries were producing cars capable of up to 60 miles
per gallon.”

Given all of this, you don’t need
to be Albert Einstein to recognise that there’s an elephant in the room &
where it’s from. 

And you certainly don’t need to
be Albert Einstein to work out whose strategic interests are being served
through the US invasion of Iraq & its further attempts to dominate the
middle east region. 

It’s a pity that Maxine didn’t
get into some of this background, rather than just playing around the edges.

grand theft auto .....

The US Foundation for Taxpayer & Consumer Rights released
a new study today of rising gasoline prices in California that found corporate
mark-ups & profiteering are responsible for spring price spikes, not rising
crude costs or the national switchover to higher-cost ethanol, as the oil
industry claims. 

While oil companies continue to blame crude oil prices &
ethanol additives for the recent gasoline price spikes in California, the chief
cause is increased profiteering by oil companies that have previously posted
world record profits. 

"Oil companies are opportunistically using the rising
world price for crude oil as an excuse to excessively raise gasoline prices &
pump up their profits, even though the spot market price for crude has gone up
far more slowly than gasoline prices,"
said FTCR President Jamie

In addition, the spot price is higher than most oil
companies pay, since they either harvest their own crude or pay more stable and
often much lower contract prices.”  

Why Gas Prices Are
Headed To US$3.50 At The Pump

And they don't pay as much tax

Gees, 75 cents a liter... But the Yanks don't pay as much tax on the stuff as we do... Yes John we are being "fiddled" by the merchants... and, ugliest of all, by our pollies who are walking hand in hand with them... When the head of Shell retired a few years back — I don't know if shell had already quit that awful cartel of petrol companies (designed to repel the mounting scientific evidences of global warming) — but when retired he said something to the effect that global warming was going to hit us like a thousand tons of lead balloons... So before the big double whammy of running out of oil and global warming punching us hard (it's already punching a bit), the big oil companies are doing whatever they can to sell more stuff, faster at a higher inflated price to snitch as much profit as they can... The place to start with is to buy it (more or less selling it to themselves) as high crude price, by whipping up the market, multiply it by a factor of twelve (or whatever their "book-equation" cost for refining the stuff) and end up with the price at the pump... Although it's quite a lot of successive complex accounting fiddles, on that figure it does not take long to realise that profits on an increase of 2 percent in production end up at around 24 per cent rise, because in fact the refining cost stay roughly the same... Raise the price of crude and you get the same result. Thus in the end, oil companies can double their profits instantly without having to do much else that increase production a tiny bit... And pay themselves an extra amount for extracting the oil.

And he wants us to trust him...

From the ABC

Howard powerless to lower petrol prices
Prime Minister John Howard says his hands are tied over rising petrol prices.

Petrol has risen to $1.40 in most capital cities and analysts believe further increases are likely.

That has prompted calls from Family First for the Federal Government to cut the petrol excise by 10 cents a litre.

Mr Howard says an investigation over Easter has found the price of petrol in Australia is directly linked to world availability.

"No government can defy the world crude oil price," he said.

Read more at the ABC

Gus comments: Defiance is the food of the brave... Wimping with panache is the fuel of the populist.

The year: 2012

The Discount petrol: $29.99 litre...

Temperature: 4 to 5 degree above average in Sydney, all year. Still windy in Hobart. Two cyclones destroying Brisbane and Rockhampton at once... New Orleans once more under water (fifth time since 2005) has been abandoned to the looters who can swim...

We still watch inane television ( the price is crook, Bert's family bunfights, etc) in our air conditioned pagoda by the swimming pool, the water of which is linked to the general COOLING system of the house working 24/7 (ugh! I hate this numeration of a reality and last time someone used it in front of me I nearly decked him... but I used it here for THAT effect)... otherwise the pool would feel like a warm soup.

We torture more poor and innocent people in our prison abroad because their existence is blamed for the rise in temperature. They farted too much. Others are tortured because it makes us feel good: If we don't do it to them they'd do it to us syndrome...

Iran, Iraq have become uninhabitable... The US nukes have made sure of that... That's why the price of petrol is so high, otherwise it be $24.99.

The Prime Minister of Australia is happy to report that the IMF has approved slavery and the treasurer is proud to announce no inflation to report with a national growth needle stuck on the magic three per cent, as if it had been painted on the dial.

The ABC is now run from a tin-shack in Goodoogada. It has three employes including the CEO/cleaner/tea-lady...

No more refugees... They're all dead, tired of knocking on closed doors.

WE accept the good nuz, swallow our pills and smile... Isn't it a wonderful world?

"spot" the truth .....

The Editor,
Australian.                                                                            April 20, 2006. 

Peter Costello claims that rising
fuel prices reflect “a supply question on the world oil markets” (‘Oil shock an
inflation risk: Costello’, Australian, April 20). 

Not so, according to the US Foundation
for Taxpayer & Consumer Rights (FTCR), which found in its latest report
that: Oil
companies are opportunistically using the rising world price for crude oil as
an excuse to excessively raise gasoline prices & pump up their profits,
even though the spot market price for crude has gone up far more slowly than
gasoline prices."

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister is
running around today, breathlessly claiming that an ACCC survey over
Easter found that rising fuel costs are being driven overwhelmingly by “the
world price of crude oil”. Duuuuh!!! 

But the FTCR says that “the spot
price is higher than most oil companies pay, since they either harvest their
own crude or pay more stable & often much lower contract prices.” 

Maybe the Cole Inquiry could find
the truth?

Petrol blues sung at the Capitol

From the New York Times
Second Thoughts in Congress on Oil Tax Breaks

Published: April 27, 2006
WASHINGTON, April 26 — As anxiety spread in Congress on Wednesday over soaring oil prices, lawmakers in both parties said they were ready to take a tough look at oil and gas incentives they passed as recently as eight months ago.

Citing record industry profits and huge executive pay packages, the top Republican and top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee asked the Internal Revenue Service to turn over tax returns for the nation's 15 biggest oil and gas companies.

Leading Republicans echoed President Bush's call Tuesday to trim about $2 billion in tax breaks Congress passed as part of the energy bill last August. Several prominent Democrats, not to be outdone, pushed for repealing oil and gas tax breaks worth more than $10 billion over the next five years.

"Nobody has any sympathy for oil companies on Capitol Hill right now," said Representative Jack Kingston, Republican of Georgia and vice chairman of the House Republican Conference. "You talk to someone driving to work in an F-150 pickup and paying $75 to fill up his tank, and everybody's on his side."

read more at the NY Times


Gus thinks the the petrol.... has bolted... all the Incentives and the huge bonuses have already been paid, all above board of course...

fill 'er up .....

'Er Up"

Mark Fiore

to BP or not to BP...

From Al Jazeera

BP's Alaskan operation is the largest in North America,
and since its closure in March it has come under a federal criminal investigation.

[|Executives remain silent]
At the hearing Richard Woollam, BP's former head of corrosion management at Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, asserted his right under the fifth amendment of the US constitution to refrain from giving testimony that could incriminate him.
He was was later whisked away from the hearing room by his lawyers.
BP executives later told the court that he had been out of his Alaska role since early last year after a report by the law firm Vincent and Elkins found evidence that senior managers intimidated oil field workers to keep them from blowing the whistle on shoddy maintenance practices.
A source familiar with the congressional investigation told a news agency that Woollam had been put on leave from his job with BP in Houston only on Wednesday.
Robert Malone, chairman and president of BP America and the company's most senior US executive, said BP had fallen short of its own standards.

Beyond environment
BP, formerly British Petroleum, has marketed itself as friendly to the environment with advertising slogans such as "Beyond Petroleum".
"BP stands for a company with bloated profits that failed to fix broken pipelines," Ed Markey, the democrat representing Massachusetts, said.

Big bushit oils are greasy!

From the New York Times

Suits Say U.S. Impeded Audits for Oil Leases

Published: September 21, 2006
WASHINGTON, Sept. 20 — Four government auditors who monitor leases for oil and gas on federal property say the Interior Department suppressed their efforts to recover millions of dollars from [|companies] they said were cheating the government.
The accusations, many of them in four lawsuits that were unsealed last week by federal judges in Oklahoma, represent a rare rebellion by government investigators against their own agency.
The auditors contend that they were blocked by their bosses from pursuing more than $30 million in fraudulent underpayments of royalties for oil produced in publicly owned waters in the Gulf of Mexico.
“The agency has lost its sense of mission, which is to protect American taxpayers,” said Bobby L. Maxwell, who was formerly in charge of Gulf of Mexico auditing. “These are assets that belong to the American public, and they are supposed to be used for things like education, public infrastructure and roadways.”
The lawsuits have surfaced as Democrats and Republicans alike are questioning the Bush administration’s willingness to challenge the oil and gas industry.