I am writing to say how much all of us in the UK are grieving for the damage being done to livelihoods, wildlife and the environment by the oil spill in the Gulf. We understand your anger, fear and sense of helplessness as the oil gushes into the ocean and nears your shores. Rest assured none of us here in the Uk wanted this and all wish strongly that the companies concerned can soon cap the well fully and start to restore normal conditions. None of this is the result of actions or inactions by the British people or government. The spill resulted from activity by global and US companies in the Gulf under supervision and regulation by the US authorities.
I understand your President keeps referring to British Petroleum, as if the Uk was seeking some kind of macabre revenge for the long ago War of Independence which you won rightly and magificently. We share no such feeling. Let me explain. The company concerned is BP. It is a global multinational, with more of its employees and assets in the USA than in the UK. It has global shareholders, with as much of its stock owned by American individuals and Pension funds as owned by British interests. Many of its Directors and senior managers are American. One of its principal forerunners was British Petroleum, but it has changed and grown out of all recognition since those days. It has been a large operator in the USA for many years and has been a pioneer of oil exploration in new and hostile territories to seek to meet US demand for petroleum products. In the Gulf it was using an American drilling company and American service companies to seek oil in very deep water.
I am sure BP is doing all it can to stop the flow and clean up the mess. It needs to do so for your sake and for its own sake, as its own profits and prospects will be much improved as soon as it has succeeded in closing down the well and then in cleaning up the spill. I am sure it is fully motivated to do so. It will not take more hostile action by US government to get it to achieve this. The US government should remember that if it moves unfairly against BP shareholders it is moving unfairly against many US holders as well as against foreign holders. US shareholders will be no keener on losing their dividends than overseas holders.
There does need to be a proper investigation into what went wrong and then decisions can be made about what actions companies and the regulators should take to make such a disaster less likely in the future. Before we know what each of the relevant companies did and who was responsible for what error or misjudgement, it would be unwise to rush to take action against any of the participants in this tragedy. BP itself has not sought to avoid responsibility, nor should it. BP was,not, however, alone in this bad accident.
Like you I just want to see the oil flow controlled and the final clean up begin. Before that is dealt with the rest is just words, or actions that could make it more difficult.