“Hey, Frank. Can you believe it was only 18 months ago you guys announced the sale of the first piece of BP — that $10 billion Alaska plot they nicknamed Palin’s Peaks — to start paying for their Gulf clean up? And today, they’re auctioning off their last field, that hell-hole in Nigeria.”
“Just like Enron came crashing down, huh, Regardie? Heck, even OJ lasted longer.”
“You were what, the sixth CEO, Frank?”
“Yep. Got a helluva parachute, too. First time in BP’s history that it was guaranteed in Exxon’s stock.
“They hired me in February, seven months after Tony Blaylock was sent to East Timor where he was bitten by a cobra on drilling rig in the middle of the South China Sea. Rendered him mute in 19 seconds. Very strange.
“Then his replacement had a breakdown. The third and fourth CEO’s were rubbed out by the New Orleans mob. Can’t blame after the way their business tanked.
“Fortunately for me, we stopped that crap by threatening to move all our recovery efforts to Houston. Then my predecessor had a suspicious heart attack and a headhunter found me in Green, which where I was running a couple of divisions for Calvin Klein. Synthetic dresses, petroleum based.”
“What was it like when you took over?”
“It made Baghdad look like St. Tropez.
“Instead of making a fortune, we destroyed the company.
“Last report I saw, fish and birds won’t return until the 25th century. You won’t be able to eat them till the 27th.
“Then, within two months our top guys started jumping ship. They knew how bad the problem was and how bleak their futures were.”
“Still, Frank, you had hundreds of drilling platforms and scores of refineries running flat out: what caused the catastrophic collapse?”
“Regardie, start with the obvious. We had destroyed the Gulf. Now we had to pay for it.
“My first morning, I had printout on my desk with close to a 50,000 lawsuits. Those lawyers came after us like those waves of North Korean Commies you saw in the war documentaries. $14 billion in legal fees in 2010 and probably double that this year.
“Next, we got hit with a bill from the Department of the Interior for $35 billion in royalties for the oil from the well we lost. ‘You pumped it, you gotta pay for it’ was their reasoning.
“The biggest hit of all was from the Justice Department last May for $150 billion for destroying tourism and commercial fishing. ’90 days or else,’ they ruled.
“So we sold off the 100 or rigs in the Gulf and our North Seas operations, but even that wasn’t enough to close the gap.”
“The Board canned me in late March, and though there were six or seven others after me, it was really all over.”
“No hope at all?”
“Actually, we were working a wild ass, $25 billion plan that was like a giant vacuum cleaner with a 750 mile pipe line to suck up the entire spill. All the glop would have been piped to the deserts of West Texas where we would have just let it seep into the sand for a couple of weeks. Then, using using the Canadian oil tar sand technologies, we’d separate the oil, wash the sand, and recoup everything.
“Only we couldn’t afford it and Obama wouldn’t allow us to partner with China.
“So we were back to selling off the pieces to pay the piper: the South China Sea field, Indonesia, even the four wells below Hollywood high school.
“Which brings us to today’s Nigerian auction.”
“Incidentally, who were your investment bankers through this who meltdown?”
“Well, I guess they’re better than the Nigerians.”
Bill Regardie was the founder and publisher of Regardie’s Magazine.