BP has denied responsibility for the giant oil slick which is threatening the USA. CEO Tony Hayward’s reasoning is that it is the rig operator TransOcean – not BP – that is responsible. This is to confuse moral responsibility and legal responsibility.
Even legally, I am sure the contract between BP and Transocean is long, detailed and contains numerous references to safety. Did BP try to lessen the safety provisions or did they not set them high enough? As for moral responsiblity, I wonder if BP has come across the idea of supply chain responsibility? It is now commonplace for major companies to accept responsibility for the actions of their suppliers acting to fulfil a contract – think of child labour, for example.
Of course BP is positioning itself for the giant legal battles that are sure to follow. But politically, it will not be helpful that they, along with other oil companies, appear to have lobbied to prevent better safety standards being imposed.